Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys)


Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys)

Critics Consensus

The plot's a bit of a jumble, but excellent performances and mind-blowing plot twists make 12 Monkeys a kooky, effective experience.



Total Count: 65


Audience Score

User Ratings: 390,806
User image

Watch it now

Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys) Photos

Movie Info

An intense film about time travel, this sci-fi entry was directed by Terry Gilliam, a member of the comedy troupe Monty Python. The film stars Bruce Willis as James Cole, a prisoner of the state in the year 2035 who can earn parole if he agrees to travel back in time and thwart a devastating plague. The virus has wiped out most of the Earth's population and the remainder live underground because the air is poisonous. Returning to the year 1990, six years before the start of the plague, Cole is soon imprisoned in a psychiatric facility because his warnings sound like mad ravings. There he meets a scientist named Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) and Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), the mad son of an eminent virologist (Christopher Plummer). Cole is returned by the authorities to the year 2035, and finally ends up at his intended destination in 1996. He kidnaps Dr. Railly in order to enlist her help in his quest. Cole discovers graffiti by an apparent animal rights group called the Army of the Twelve Monkeys, but as he delves into the mystery, he hears voices, loses his bearings, and doubts his own sanity. He must figure out if Goines, who seems to be a raving lunatic, holds the key to the puzzle. ~ Michael Betzold, Rovi


Bruce Willis
as James Cole
Madeleine Stowe
as Dr. Kathryn Railly
Brad Pitt
as Jeffrey Goines
Joseph Melito
as Young Cole
David Morse
as Dr. Peters
Frank Gorshin
as Dr. Fletcher
Joey Perillo
as Detective Franki
Paul Meshejian
as Detective Dalva
Christopher Meloni
as Lt. Halperin
Rozwill Young
as Billings
Fred Strother
as L.J. Washington
Rick Warner
as Dr. Casey
Charles Techman
as Professor
Jann Ellis
as Marilou
Lee Golden
as Hotel Clerk
Joe McKenna
as Wallace
Bob Adrian
as Geologist
Simon Jones
as Zoololgist
Jeff Tanner
as Plain Clothes Cop
Annie Golden
as Woman Cabbie
Carol Florence
as Astrophysicist
William Raymond
as Microbiologist
Stephen Bridgewater
as Airport Detective
Ernest Abuba
as Engineer
Jack Dougherty
as Airport Security
Bruce Kirkpatrick
as Policeman No. 1
Carolyn Walker
as Terrified Traveler
Wilfred E. Williams
as Policeman No. 2
Nell Johnson
as Ward Nurse
Joilet F. Harris
as Harassed Mother
Drucie McDaniel
as Waltzing Woman Patient
Jamie N. Frey
as Office PA
John Blaisse
as Old Man Patient
Louis Lippa
as Patient at Gate
Stan Kang
as X-ray Doctor
Pat Dias
as WWI Captain
Aaron Michael Lacey
as WWI Sergeant
Johnnie Hobbs Jr.
as Officer No. 1
Janet L. Zappala
as Anchorwoman
Thomas Roy
as Evangelist
View All

News & Interviews for Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys)

Critic Reviews for Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys)

All Critics (65) | Top Critics (22) | Fresh (58) | Rotten (7)

  • This dystopian time-travelling sci-fi is a reminder that the director can make films that are visually inventive, intellectually engaging and downright exciting.

    Oct 11, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Ed Potton

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • While all of Gilliam's movies are worth seeing, there's a fair amount of his designer grimness here mixed in with the cabaret comedy.

    May 27, 2011 | Full Review…
  • Neither as visually compelling as Brazil nor as emotionally gripping as The Fisher King.

    Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • Gilliam gives the material a lunatic poetry of his own, but remains impervious to the requirements of narrative pacing.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Dark and somber like Blade Runner, this sci-fi is a spectacular mess, a convoluted film with too many ideas for its own good, blending (among other things) the virus thriller with the post-apocalyptic genre.

    Aug 12, 2005 | Rating: B-

    Emanuel Levy

    Top Critic
  • There's always overripe method to his madness, but in the new 12 Monkeys Mr. Gilliam's methods are uncommonly wrenching and strong.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys)

  • Jul 08, 2016
    This movie started out really weirdly and about a third of the way through I almost turned it off. But after about a third of the way through the film starts filling out in the story and keeps you guessing about if the reality Bruce Willis' character is living is real or not.
    Patrick W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 02, 2015
    Pretty good but it pales in comparison to its source material so much. And honestly, I just simply don't like Gilliam's direction.
    Kyle M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 01, 2015
    Most time travel stories are hard to understand but this one just doesn't give the viewer any chance of understanding for a long time, We are forced into being spoon fed the plot in small doses and none of it makes much sense for a long time or fits into what's happening on screen at the time, Plus the very misleading name of the film will only be a giant middle finger to people trying to make sense of the plot, Having said that it makes the crazy story more exciting it's also very unpredictable, All the cast were great but I did enjoy Brad Pitts character more than any, It had a great ending that worked well with the dark mood of the film, It won't appeal to many but people that will watch it and can understand it will love it.
    Jamie C Super Reviewer
  • Apr 21, 2015
    Well thought out, though still possessed of some issues, 12 Monkeys is a film unlike anything else Terry Gillam has done before or since, a neat sci-fi that endears itself to almost all who watch it (myself included), regardless of what could be said about it objectively.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer

Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys) Quotes

News & Features