In this science fiction masterpiece, Cole (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time to save the human race from a deadly virus that has forced mankind into dank underground communities in the future. Along his travels, he encounters a psychiatrist (Madeleine Stowe) and a mental patient, brilliantly portrayed by Brad Pitt, who may hold the key to the mysterious rogue group, The Army of the 12 Monkeys, thought to be responsible for unleashing the killer disease. Believing he can obtain a pure virus sample in order to find a cure in the future, he is met with one riddle after another that puts him in a race for time.
Inspired by Chris Marker's acclaimed short film La Jetée
(which is included on the DVD Short 2: Dreams
), 12 Monkeys
combines intricate, intelligent storytelling with the uniquely imaginative vision of director Terry Gilliam. The story opens in the wintry wasteland of the year 2035, where a virulent plague has forced humans to live in a squalid, oppressively regimented underground. Bruce Willis plays a societal outcast who is given the opportunity to erase his criminal record by "volunteering" to time-travel into the past to obtain a pure sample of the deadly virus that will help future scientists to develop a cure. But in bouncing from 1918 to the early and mid-1990s, he undergoes an ordeal that forces him to question his own perceptions of reality. Caught between the dangers of the past and the devastation of the future, he encounters a psychiatrist (Madeleine Stowe) who is initially convinced he's insane, and a wacky mental patient (Brad Pitt in a twitchy Oscar-nominated role) with links to a radical group that may have unleashed the deadly virus. Equal parts mystery, tragedy, psychological thriller, and apocalyptic drama, 12 Monkeys
ranks as one of the best science fiction films of the '90s, boosted by Gilliam's visual ingenuity and one of the finest performances of Willis's career. The Collector's Edition DVD includes a fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary (The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of 12 Monkeys
) in addition to the theatrical trailer, production notes, and a 12 Monkeys
archive of still photos, design concepts, and storyboards. --Jeff Shannon
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.