A Critic's Meta Review: 4/5
Twelve Monkeys (REVIEW)
This is a rather strange movie; that being said, I enjoyed it quite a lot. As a matter of fact, should I ever stumble into the opportunity of potentially acquiring a physical copy of this film, I may be inclined to pursue it. Such an opportunity is a rare thing, especially in these dog days of digital doom.
Speaking of dystopian futures (or presents, I guess), now would be as good of a time as any to chomp into the meat (despite my plant based inclinations) of this here film. Now, right at the beginning, following the opening title sequence, we are told that the story that is to take place within this film is based on the landmark 1962 experimental French short film (somehow these words seem out of order, but we can fix that in post...right?) La Jetée, directed by Chris Marker. Upon watching this film, I would suggest that this message be amended to inform the viewers that this movie is “loosely” based on La Jetée and not a direct adaptation, which was my initial assumption.
Well, for starters, La Jetée is only twenty five minutes in length and is composed entirely of still images. Also, it is in French. The language used throughout this movie, as far as I could tell at least, was that spoken by Queen Elizabeth, as well as those four limeys from Liverpool (although, to be fair, I did watch this film on a particularly noisy flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, so perhaps I could have missed a few “c’est la vie”s; furthermore, the version that I...found...was subtitled in Swedish, or something).
Nonetheless, there are definitely some similarities. One thing that I will point out is that you can immediately tell that Terry Gilliam (perhaps the finest Minnesotan to renounce his American heritage and proclaim global citizenship since Bob Dylan was banging on about the man in the coonskin cap in the pig pen) directed this thing. It’s got that Pythonesque sensibility to it - that aura of Englishness (despite Terry himself being the comedy comrades’ resident Yank). Even the accent of the doctors at the loony bin, for instance, sounded kind of British. Of course, the humor was clearly that of the Queen’s subjects.
Brad Pitt, reprising his character in Fight Club but with a bad meth habit, steals the show during all of the scenes in which he is featured. Bruce Willis, as usual, kills it, as he is known to do when it comes to the science fiction game (shout out to The Fifth Element, by the way, which is an extremely underrated piece of cinema, although one that I am still a little peeved that I paid for as I have seen it on television for free so many times since then).
“There’s no right, there’s no wrong, there’s only popular opinion” - Jeffrey Goines (Pitt, in tweeker form)
Damn relativists, man.
Bruce Willis’s character in this movie seems like an abrasive, erratic lout but really he is just a man from an extremely dystopian future who has been sent to conduct a highway specific mission, operating solely from a survivalist standpoint; as a result, he has no time to indulge in all of the typical pleasantries or abide by all of the standard social conventions in effect at the time (such as not kidnapping people or interrogating hostages at gunpoint - acts which, as we all know, are only permissible when committed by a particular band of louts that are usually collectively referred to as a “government”).
From the psychiatrist’s perspective (which, in most cases, would likely be the most accurate lens through which to view this situation), this guy is simply a delusional maniac who has created some sort of fantastical futuristic scenario in his mind that he is using to escape the present reality that he is merely a dangerous fool.
Indeed, had I not been adhering to a fairly strict drug regimen, I myself would have been inclined to agree, as I have certainly “been there” on a couple of occasions; however, bearing in mind that this film was based on La Jetee, I knew that something more nefarious than a head trip was going on.
Pretty remarkable timing for me to have picked this flick, by the way, as its plot focuses largely on a virus that wipes out a substantial percentage of the population, resulting in a chaotic future in which everyone is forced to quarantine themselves...talk about having to suspend your disbelief, am I right?
I sure hope not. But, I mean, who knows. Movies are weird like that - look no further than the mid-aught sleeper hit Idiocracy and its intricate prescience.
Maybe that will be the next review. Keep your eyes peeled, folks, and don’t forget to count your blessings on this lovely day.