IMDb Top 250: #238 Twelve Monkeys

Twelve Monkeys (1995)

Director: Terry Gilliam
Writers: Chris Marker (film La Jetée), David Webb Peoples (screenplay) (as David Peoples)
Stars: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt

In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.


If given the chance, would someone change the past? Should you actually be allowed to change it? Can you actually go in the past and just observe and not interfere? What is right and what is wrong in this situation?

These are questions you tend to ask yourself while watching this movie. By 2025 only 1% of the human population has survived, living underground because of a virus that wiped out most of humanity. Cole is a convict who is forced to accept a deal: go in the past to try to learn all that he can about the virus, maybe even stop it. But with time travel, nothing is what is seems. After going back and forth through time, Cole becomes mentally unstable, having problems realizing what is real and what is in his mind.

As a big fan of Bruce Willis, I have to admit that this is maybe his greatest performance. Add a neo noir flair to this science fiction movie, an incredible performance from Brad Pitt as a mentally disturbed person and numerous plot twists and this might be one of the best Sci-Fi movies of the 90s.

What I didn’t like was how they actually treated time travel. All of the coming and going that Cole is put through is definitely taking its toll on his mind, almost driving him on the brink on insanity.  I’m a firm believer of the grandfather paradox. In case you were wondering, the grandfather paradox describes that a person cannot go in the past to kill his own grandfather because it will prevent his own existence. So if Cole goes back in time to try to stop the dystopian future, wouldn’t that prevent the current future and thus there would be no reason for Cole to go back in time in the first place? And while I am still at the topic of time travel, wouldn’t Cole’s presence in the past affect the future? Just by sending him in the past, the time flow was changed and no matter how small the differences were, his “present” should not be the same anymore.

But overall, if you don’t take my personal notes regarding time travel, this truly is a good Sci-Fi movie, worth watching.

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