Twelve Monkeys (1995)
IMDB Rating 8.1/10 129 min - Rated 15 Sci-Fi | Thriller
Stars: Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe Director: Terry Gilliam
By 2035 only one per cent of the population is still alive, the rest having been wiped out by an unknown virus. Convict James Cole (Willis) is sent back in time on a mission to discover the origins of the virus. The most commercial film of Gilliam's career provides the auteur with a rare box office hit that manages to retain a characteristic visual flair and offbeat narrative structure. The film sees both male leads grappling with madness. Cole's sanity is in question from the start. When he is selected for the mission it is unclear whether he is deemed insane by the authorities who have incarcerated him. He starts to wonder himself when locked up in a present day asylum with 'crazy as a loon' Jeffrey Goines (Pitt). Gilliam enjoys keeping the state of both men's mental health ambiguous, twisting and turning the plot and timeline in order to confuse the viewer, even throwing in the odd red herring. Willis excels in one of the most layered and intelligent performances of his career, once again proving how good he can be when well cast by a competent director (Pulp Fiction, The Sixth Sense). He holds the film together but has the odd scene stolen by Pitt, clearly relishing the freedom inherent in the portrayal of a lunatic. As original and interesting as his best work, Twelve Monkeys is a great 'entry level' Gilliam movie for those who are yet to be converted. More polished than Brazil, more coherent than The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and more mature than Time Bandits, it is an inventive and demanding addition to the Gilliam repertoire.