Twelve Monkeys


This film had a lot going for it at the beginning. The immersive world and interesting plot immediately pulled me in, both captivating me and amazing me with the intricate worldbuilding. I was excited about the idea of time travel and how James (Bruce Willis) would manage to save the world.

And then nothing happens.

Twelve Monkeys is literally all over the place. It is tonally inconsistent at best, bouncing jarringly between psychological drama, quirky science fiction, and ludicrous comedy. Sometimes all within one scene. Take, for instance, the scene near the end of the film where James and Kathryn (Madeleine Stowe) are in the motel discussing events. That one scene involves the two of them having a conversation about mental illness, then they are assaulted by a pimp in a cowboy hat, and finally James painlessly cuts out his teeth with a switchblade.

Another issue here is how dreadfully dull the entire film is. Despite a plot dealing with time travel and world-ending biological plagues, Twelve Monkeys manages to focus on the contrived love story between the two main protagonists. Forget the fact that said love interest develops from thin air, it is just plainly not interesting to watch at all. I love Bruce Willis, but there was zero chemistry between his character and Kathryn.

A lot of the dialogue and acting is just bad. It’s clear that Brad Pitt did the best he could with his character, but it is extremely over-the-top and comical. Perhaps that was the intent but, again, it is inconsistent with the atmosphere and never manages to feel realistic. Bruce Willis has his fair share of laughably bad scenes, including one where he plays in a river and sings about how he likes frogs. I wish I were kidding.

Overall, Twelve Monkeys is a film that could have been amazing if it took itself more seriously and possessed some semblance of coherent plot and tone.

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