Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 176 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Between sanity and madness, fantasy and reality, the past and the future, comes an adventure beyond imagination from Terry Gilliam, the acclaimed director of "The Fisher King." Penal colony prisoner James Cole (Willis) must travel back in time from the year 2035 to find the cause of a virus that killed five billion people in 1997. (Universal) Expand
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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. A grandiose cinematic invention, cleverly turning the present-day urban American world on its ear.
  6. 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.
  7. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    Gilliam's work is long on sensibility, short on sense.

See all 20 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 44
  2. Negative: 1 out of 44
  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!!! Expand
  2. Mar 20, 2012
    I love this film, its artistic enough to be slightly confusing and has fantastic visuals and eerie music. A note to Max P...if its too confusing then, you just aren't bright enough to understand it. And really, its not hard to understand at all. Not if you watch it all the way through. Expand
  3. [Anonymous]
    Nov 17, 2005
    Top movie definately in my top 20. Well acted, well directed and an interesting and well told stoy.
  4. 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. Expand
  5. Oct 22, 2013
    This is one thought provoking, disturbing, and ingeniously constructed film. It may have even inspired Looper, but I found this film both superior in style and plot. Terry Gilliam always creates strange, disorienting worlds. When I first saw Brazil I really didn't like it at all, but I might have to watch it again after viewing 12 Monkeys. The performances are all incredibly convincing and strange. Willis gives perhaps his most mortal and desperate performance, and Pitt goes full retard as a crazy animal rights activist, showing that he possesses an acting range which I thought he lacked. I don't want to spoil things, so I'll just say that the plot needs to be paid close attention to at all times and it will definitely keep you on your toes. If you're a fan of sci-fi or mindbender films at all then you need to see this creepy and unique vision. Expand
  6. Aug 16, 2014
    Good thought-provoking movie that continues to be relevant even after all these years.
    Story is outstanding, Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt amp
    it up a level. Every other character is forgettable though. I especially love the crazy Brad Pitt scenes. The ending still leaves me questioning what exactly happened, although after a few explanations on IMDB, you can figure out the plot. Reminded me of Memento (style of video) and Fight Club (twisting plot)
    In summary, rent or watch on Netflix before you buy. I would buy it if you like Sci-Fi and time travel movies. This is Bruce Willis' better time travel movie (Looper being the lesser of the two).
  7. MaxP.
    Jul 10, 2007
    This film was both too confusing and broing and as for the ending, its a joke, pathetic. if you are going to find out who the killer is then make it a big character not some ginger haired idiot.....A failure for Gilliam, on a kinder note the only reason i give this a 2 is for Brad Pitts unbelievable acting, his best peice to date, too bad the movie was rubbish! Collapse

See all 44 User Reviews


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