Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. 100
    Gilliam, along with the gifted cinematographer Roger Pratt and production designer Jeffrey Beecroft, fashions a disturbing and dazzling lost world.
  2. Bruce Willis is bruisingly good as the hero and Brad Pitt is suitably zany as the activist who dogs his trail.
  3. 100
    Gilliam keeps the audience guessing, and in doing so creates a startlingly effective rumination on the nature of sanity and madness cloaked in the shroud of a sci-fi thriller.
  4. Fierce and disturbing, with a plot that skillfully resists following any familiar course. The film's hero fears that he's half-crazy, and for two hours Mr. Gilliam artfully keeps his audience feeling the same way.
  5. Reviewed by: Barbara Shulgasser
    One of the qualities that makes "12 Monkeys" so good is the fact that it is almost too complicated to explain.
  6. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    A Hitchcockian chase...A crowd-pleasing airport-pursuit pic. [27 Dec 1995, p.D1]
  7. 88
    It's refreshing to encounter a movie with a logical, intelligent approach to the dangers of zipping through time.
  8. For all his daring, the brazen creator maintains control - there's aesthetic order in the disorder, and calculated reason in the madness. Seldom has it felt so good to seem so lost.
  9. As the jabbering psychotic Jeffrey Goines, Brad Pitt has a rabid, get-a-load-of-me deviousness that works for the film's central mystery: We can't tell where the fanatic leaves off and the put-on artist begins.
  10. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    That Terry Gilliam managed to make Twelve Monkeys into a clever, complex, and poignant success is as astonishing as it is satisfying.
  11. Reviewed by: Scott Rosenberg
    To Gilliam's quiver of attributes this new movie adds a quality that's on the endangered list in today's Hollywood: coherence.
  12. 75
    Any laughs that it inspires will be very hollow. It's more of a celebration of madness and doom, with a hero who tries to prevail against the chaos of his condition, and is inadequate.
  13. A grandiose cinematic invention, cleverly turning the present-day urban American world on its ear.
  14. Mystifying, intriguing, even infuriating, it shows what happens when an unconventional talent meets straightforward material.
  15. In a movie in which time travel is used to rectify the past, it's too bad scriptwriters David and Janet Peoples didn't go through the time/space tunnel to work on that first draft again.
  16. 70
    A densely plotted, visually dynamic post-apocalyptic thriller.
  17. Brad Pitt has fun with his secondary part as a pontificating lunatic, but I wish I'd enjoyed the rest of the cast more.
  18. Reviewed by: Terrence Rafferty
    But finally the film is no more than a flamboyant curiosity, replacing the spooky obsessiveness of "La Jetée" with a much tamer kind of weirdness. Also with Brad Pitt, in a showy role as a voluble lunatic; he's dreadful.
  19. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Intent on both dazzling and punishing the viewer, Gilliam gets lost in creepy spectacle and plenty of old film clips (notably "Vertigo"). But at the sight of three giraffes crossing a city bridge, you'll think of a more recent movie. A bad one. [8 Jan 1996, p.69]
  20. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    Gilliam's work is long on sensibility, short on sense.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 135 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 39
  2. Negative: 1 out of 39
  1. Aug 25, 2010
    Since I see most reviews are spot on here, I will simply say "ditto".

    ALSO, another in a long line of my favorite movies that require you to
    THINK! (A lost concept in movie making). IT IS BRILLIANT!!! Full Review »
  2. Oct 27, 2012
    A very touching and thought-provoking film surprisingly made by Terry Gilliam, one of the people behind Monty Python. The insight and themes surrounding this brilliant science-fiction film have depicted that somehow we ourselves are unsure of what is real and what is not. Each actor has their own creative part to play, and despite what you may think, with all the life-threatening and time-travel twists to get your head around, it will end up having a real impact on you, thinking about the real issues that are actually quite close to home. Full Review »
  3. Aug 1, 2012
    12 Monkeys is the 2nd best science fiction; #1 being Bladerunner. A highly imaginative movie with a heart crushing ending. This will be around my 6th watching through and you notice something new every time. For example, this time I noticed that each inmate in the future had plastic pouch stapled to their prisoner uniform shirt, for identification. Full Review »