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Blind Spot 2012 Review: 12 Monkeys

Posted April 24, 2012 by in Sci-Fi







Musical Score

Total Score

85/ 100

What We Thought

Actors: , ,

What We Liked :

Career performances from Willis and Pitt Trademark camera work

What We Disliked:

Ending leaves too many loose ends
Bottom Line

Peel away the mysteries of 12 Monkeys and witness the beginnings of our own dystopia.

by Max
Full Article

Terry Gilliam has always been known to make weird films. Just look at Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or Brazil for prime examples. 12 Monkeys doesn’t stray too far from his usual visions, but its fueled by a career best performances from Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis. Terry Gilliam’s trademark cinematography is also all over this picture. 12 Monkeys belongs in the class of dystopian film classics as the hero of this story struggles with despair and failure whatever time period he visits.

It is the year 2035. In 1997, a deadly pandemic was released upon the earth killing most of its inhabitants. Prisoner James Cole (Bruce Willis) has volunteered to collect information about the past to find a cure for the future. The scientists of the future have offered Cole a pardon for his sins if he succeeds in finding the vital information. Through a sophisticated process, Cole is transported back to 1990. He was supposed to be sent back to 1996 to stop The Army of the Twelve Monkeys from unleashing the pandemic. Since his knowledge about the future is considered ridiculous to the world of 1990, Cole is institutionalized.

Unable to fix his current predicament, Cole starts being treated for mental delusions. During his stay in the mental ward, Cole meets Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe), an attending psychiatrist who seems to have a strange familiarity with Cole. He also grows close with fellow patient, Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt) who has delusions of grandeur. Cole’s treatment is consistent with that of other patients, but after a brief commotion he gets detained. What really shocks the doctors is that he has disappeared from the padded room they placed him in.

It’s easy to imagine a crazed mastermind when the camera is focused on Jeffrey Goines.

Cole returns to 2035. The time travel process seems to damage his mind to where he is questioning his own reality. The team of scientists are disappointed that Cole failed to discover the truth behind the Army of the Twelve Monkeys, but are willing to give him another chance. Cole is now fighting against returning to the dystopian future where people live underground or living in a past that allows him to see the sky.

12 Monkeys wouldn’t be as successful without the performances from Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt. Typically seen as an action-hero, Bruce Willis is seen in 12 Monkeys as a man with a fragile mind. There’s moment where the insanity is truly believable. While there’s time in the film where he’s asked to do the duties he’s known for all-in-all it’s an atypical Bruce Willis performance. On the other hand, there’s Brad Pitt. The Hollywood pretty-boy has never looked this crazy before. Complete with a lazy eye, Pitt’s Jeffrey has all the nervous ticks and motions of someone who suffers from mental illness. It’s easy to imagine a crazed mastermind when the camera is focused on Jeffrey Goines.

Inspired by La Jetée (1962 French science fiction film), 12 Monkeys is a trademark Terry Gilliam film. Its bizarre camera angles and hazy images all lead to an all too scary glimpse into a desolate future. While the ending will leave some viewers disappointed, others will enjoy the ideas it presents. Peel away the mysteries of 12 Monkeys and witness the beginnings of our own dystopia.

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About the Author


Chief Editor of Impassionedcinema. A film enthusiast who studies and creates his own films. Criticizing movies is his favorite pass-time.



    Love this movie! Bruce Willis is pretty awesome, but not as awesome as he was in Pulp Fiction but pretty close.


    Great review! The film is definetly unique when it comes to sci-fi, the performances are indeed great – I adored Madeline Stowe in this film it's a shame she didn't have big success pretty much since this one premiered.


      I actually wasn't a big fan of Stowe. The relationship with Willis never comes across as real although she was traumatized, so that might be an excuse. Some of the futuristic scenes reminded of something with a far smaller budget, but it didn't distract too much.


    Definitely great film in Gilliam's canon. I saw La Jetée in film class many a moon ago and only recently caught up with this one.

    I was really taken with Pitt's performance. Oscar-nod well deserved.


    I saw this ages ago but honestly I don't remember much of the details. I think I liked it, I'm not sure 🙂


    Hey Max, One of my all time faves, glad you finally got a chance to watch it. Pitt, Willis and Stowe were all great in this film. That La Jetee film is available on Hulu if anyone wants to watch it, thats a pretty interesting short film as well.

    Nice review

    F**K the Bozos!


    Great review, Max. I saw this a long time ago but didn't care much for it. My tastes have changed a lot since then, so I ought to give this another shot.


      Give it another go. I could see myself not caring for it maybe 7 years ago, but there's so much to love on a technical and performance stand point.


    It's been a while since I saw this film, but I do remember loving it. Brad Pitt blew me away – still think this is one of my favourite performances from him.


      This is Brad Pitt's best performance. Unless I'm missing another one of his best films, this is the one that I'll refer to when people ask me if he can act.


    Interesting take on an interesting film.

    I gave this film a similar review when I covered it as part of my IMDB Top 250 challenge. I, however, did not find the ending puzzling, in fact, only some odd theories in the web could lead someone to believe there is more to it than there really was. It is pretty clear where the virus originated from and whether Cole is crazy or not, even though this does not become clear until the very end. Sure, there are a couple of loose ends here and there but nothing too great to take away from the accomplishments of the film.

    If you want to compare notes, check out my review here:



      I checked out your review. I'm not sure the ending is as cut and dry as that though. There's a bunch of loose ends or alternate theories that could of happened. For the record I never thought Cole was crazy. So that wasn't really a question for me throughout the picture.


        I would like to hear some examples of loose ends in this film, maybe I overlooked a couple of things.

        As for this being Brad Pitt's best performance I would have to disagree. I enjoyed his role on Snatch which I just saw and reviewed, but my favorite is now his unforgettable and poignant role as Billy Beane in "Moneyball", which is to this day my favorite film of last year, and I am not a baseball fan whatsoever.


          I didn't understand the scientist in the current age at the end and her line about insurance. I wasn't sure of her motive for that. Or how many times has Bruce Willis witnessed his own death. It's kind of crazy.

          I saw Moneyball and I think he was better in 12 Monkeys or Fight Club, but to each his own I suppose.

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