Twelve Monkeys


(1995) ★★★★★

5USA: Saturday 9 May, 9.15pm

Vertigo inspired La Jetée which inspired Twelve Monkeys which inspired Looper… Let’s do the time-warp again. Convict Bruce Willis is sent from the future to follow the trail of ‘The Army of the 12 Monkeys’, believed to be responsible for a viral plague that wiped out five billion people in 1997. He arrives in Baltimore in 1990 armed with the agony of foreknowledge and, unsurprisingly, he’s locked up in a mental hospital. But sympathetic psychiatrist Madeleine Stowe is sure that she’s seen him somewhere before… Terry Gilliam’s meticulous sci-fi parable is consistently inventive and startling, referring in part to the dystopian visions of Brazil and Millennium but imbuing the action with a moral vigour usually underplayed in time travel conundrums. Writer David Peoples (who also scripted Blade Runner and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven) has reworked Chris Marker’s cult 1960s short La Jetée, using it as a jumping off place for a surprisingly moving, sophisticated and grimly comic study of insanity and soul-sickness. Gilliam’s the perfect director for such challenging material and he’s elicted amazingly nuanced performances from the entire cast. Brad Pitt’s Oscar-nominated anarchist is eye-catching in more ways than one. He wouldn’t look this weird again until Burn After Reading. And Willis is terrific as the vulnerable anti-hero. In the interests of synchronicity, here’s what his character has to say while watching Vertigo on a monitor: “The movie never changes. It can’t change. But every time you see it, it’s different because you’re different. You see different things.”

Certificate: 15
Duration: 130min

IMDB – Twelve Monkeys

TMDB – Twelve Monkeys

Rotten Tomatoes – Twelve Monkeys