Review: Twelve Monkeys

Blu-ray: Twelve Monkeys (1995)

With a twisting narrative that unfurls further intricate depths with each consequent viewing, Twelve Monkeys is a movie that not only warrants repeat views, but also demands them too. And what better way to watch than on this brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative by Arrow Films, approved by director Terry Gilliam.

James Cole (Bruce Willis in fantastic form before he apparently turned into a grumpy git who’ll take any old role for the right paycheck) is a convict from the future who has been sent back in time from 2035 (not far off now!) on the promise of parole if he can find information about a man-made virus that has wiped out most of humanity.

Mistakenly sent back to 1990 (six years before the virus hit) Cole soon finds himself locked in a psychiatric facility due to his seemingly mad ravings about an incoming plague.

It is here that he meets Dr Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) and Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt in one of my all-time favourite roles of his), a ‘twitchy’ hyperactive man who may, or may not, hold the key to human survival.

After being brought back to 2035 and explaining that he had been in the wrong time period, a succession of ‘time jumps’, visions, memories, and the search for ’The Army of 12 Monkeys’ sees Cole trying desperately to unravel all of the clues before they unravel his already fragile mind.

I’ve watched Twelve Monkeys about half a dozen times over the years, and each time see (and hear) something new that adds yet another level of enjoyment to the experience, from subtle looks that have a deeper meaning, to lines of dialogue that on 1stviewing seem like a throw-away comment, but on repeat viewings signpost key points in the intricate narrative.

The special features are, as always, entertaining and informative, especially the commentary track by Terry Gilliam and producer Charles Roven.

Superb story and acting, all directed by the great Terry Gilliam and presented in a new 4K scan for outstanding picture quality…buy now.


  • Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative by Arrow Films, approved by director Terry Gilliam
  • Optional DTS 5.1 Master Audio and 2.0 stereo soundtracks
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Audio commentary by Terry Gilliam and producer Charles Roven
  • The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys, feature-length making-of documentary by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (Lost in La Mancha)
  • The Film Exchange with Terry Gilliam, a 1996 interview with Gilliam and critic Jonathan Romney, recorded at the London Film Festival
  • Brand-new appreciation by Ian Christie, author of Gilliam on Gilliam
  • The Twelve Monkeys Archives
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Nathan Rabin and archive materials

You can buy Twelve Monkeys by clicking HERE. ALL money raised by purchasing from Amazon via our website is given back to our listeners and followers in upcoming competition prizes. The more people buy, the bigger our prizes.

Review by Dave (host 0f 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Fetch Publicity.