12 Monkeys isn’t a children’s film about a dozen primates, it’s an R rated science fiction film about a bleak post-apocalyptic future. By the year 2035, humanity lives underground thanks to a virus released in the year 1996 by the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. I knew absolutely nothing about 12 Monkeys going into it. Turns out it was Bruce Willis’ first film where he time travels from the future. It’s also the first time we see bald Bruce Willis, but it wasn’t permanent just yet.
James Cole is a convict who will receive a reduced sentence if he travels to the past and collects information about how to stop the virus. The only problem is that he’s accidentally sent to 1990 where he ends up in a mental institution. It’s there that Brad Pitt steals the show as the absolutely insane Jeffery. It’s a limited performance, but it earned Pitt an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win for Best Supporting Actor. 12 Monkeys is based on a French short film and is shot very similar to Terry Gilliam’s other sci-fi trip Brazil.
I followed the time jumping story pretty well, but I think the goal was to have you question everything Cole experiences. Dr. Kathryn Railly is a psychiatrist who tries to convince Cole that he’s crazy, until Railly starts thinking she’s crazy herself. Since everything about the doomed future begins to add up. 12 Monkeys is like Terminator with how it puts more focus on characters who are desperately on the run in the present. With cryptic dreams that pay off in a very unexpected way by the end. 12 Monkeys is an engaging think piece that hits close to home with its depiction of the future.