Recently, this column has reviewed a number of science fiction films from the 1990s. We’ve looked at very funny movies such as “Men in Black,” very dense movies such as “The Matrix,” and science fiction for younger audiences such as “Small Soldiers.” Moving back into the arena of unsettling plots, one of the most memorable sci-fi films of this era is “Twelve Monkeys,” which came out in 1995.
“Twelve Monkeys” stars Bruce Willis as James Cole, an imprisoned convict in the year 2035. A virus that spread in 1996 has decimated most of the earth’s human population. To ease his prison sentence, James agrees to being sent back in time to learn about the origins of the virus. Since the time travel technology is imperfect, he is accidently sent back to the wrong year, 1990. Here, he meets an attractive psychologist, Kathryn Railly (played by Madeline Stowe), who is interested in his unorthodox story. James ends up in a mental hospital where he meets Jeffrey Goines (played by Brad Pitt), a patient. James is eventually sent back to the right year, 1996. He finds evidence that suggests that Jeffrey is involved in “The Army of the 12 Monkeys,” a band of animal rights activists who may be responsible for the virus.
“Twelve Monkeys” has a very complicated plot that is occasionally hard to follow. Yet it is still a great story with many unexpected twists and turns.
This film has an excellent cast. Bruce Willis gives one of his best performances as James, a convict who begins to think he is crazy when he is actually not. Brad Pitt earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his work as Jeffrey, the unbalanced son of a respected doctor. Madeline Stowe is also great as Kathryn, who initially does not believe James, but becomes very scared as she learns more about the virus.
“Twelve Monkeys” is a must-see for any fan of science fiction.