In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.



(film La Jetée), (screenplay) (as David Peoples) | 1 more credit »
993 ( 95)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Top Rated Movies #219 | Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A boy who communicates with spirits that don't know they're dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist.

Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette
Donnie Darko (2001)
Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after narrowly escaping a bizarre accident.

Director: Richard Kelly
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell
Sin City (2005)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A film that explores the dark and miserable town, Basin City, and tells the story of three different people, all caught up in violent corruption.

Directors: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Bruce Willis
Action | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A human-looking indestructible cyborg is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a waitress, whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the machines, while a soldier from that war is sent to protect her at all costs.

Director: James Cameron
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn
Blade Runner (1982)
Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A blade runner must pursue and try to terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator.

Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young
Groundhog Day (1993)
Comedy | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again.

Director: Harold Ramis
Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott
Comedy | Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a television show.

Director: Peter Weir
Stars: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney
Die Hard (1988)
Action | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

Director: John McTiernan
Stars: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia
Jurassic Park (1993)
Adventure | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum
Alien (1979)
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as distress call, their landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform. Continuing their journey back to Earth with the attacked crew having recovered and the critter deceased, they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.

Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
Snatch (2000)
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Unscrupulous boxing promoters, violent bookmakers, a Russian gangster, incompetent amateur robbers, and supposedly Jewish jewelers fight to track down a priceless stolen diamond.

Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Benicio Del Toro
Memento (2000)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A man juggles searching for his wife's murderer and keeping his short-term memory loss from being an obstacle.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano


Cast overview, first billed only:
Joseph Melito ...
Michael Chance ...
H. Michael Walls ...
Carol Florence ...
Ernest Abuba ...
Irma St. Paule ...
Bruce Kirkpatrick ...


An unknown and lethal virus has wiped out five billion people in 1996. Only 1% of the population has survived by the year 2035, and is forced to live underground. A convict (James Cole) reluctantly volunteers to be sent back in time to 1996 to gather information about the origin of the epidemic (who he's told was spread by a mysterious "Army of the Twelve Monkeys") and locate the virus before it mutates so that scientists can study it. Unfortunately Cole is mistakenly sent to 1990, six years earlier than expected, and is arrested and locked up in a mental institution, where he meets Dr. Kathryn Railly, a psychiatrist, and Jeffrey Goines, the insane son of a famous scientist and virus expert. Written by Giancarlo Cairella <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They're Coming. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

5 January 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

12 Monkeys  »

Box Office


$29,000,001 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£1,320,430 (UK) (19 April 1996)


$56,882,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director Terry Gilliam tried to persuade the studio to cast Nick Nolte as James Cole and Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey Goines, but was not successful as none of the two had any big hits since Another 48 Hrs. (1990) and The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989). Nolte and Bridges are in fact close friends, and have tried and failed to team up several times. Cutter's Way (1981) and Tequila Sunrise (1988) were both meant to star the pair. They finally worked together in Simpatico (1999). See more »


Near the beginning of the film, Cole collects a cockroach as it crawls through the snow. Cockroaches aren't active in winter, and wouldn't be found crawling through snow. Also, the cockroach he picks up is a Madagascar hissing cockroach, not found in the US. See more »


[first lines]
James Cole: Jose - psst! Jose, what's going on?
Jose: Bad news, man
James Cole: Volunteers?
Jose: Yeah. And they said your name.
Jose: Hey, maybe they'll give you a pardon, man.
James Cole: [sarcastic] Yeah, that's why none of the volunteers come back. They all get a pardon.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The symbol of the 12 Monkeys provides the backdrop for the opening and closing credits. See more »


Referenced in Supernatural: Time After Time (2012) See more »


Blueberry Hill
Music by Vincent Rose
Lyrics by Al Lewis, Larry Stock
Performed by Fats Domino
Courtesy of EMI Records
Under license from CEMA Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

So you're telling me those people in the mental institution are... crazy?
15 September 2007 | by (Chicago, Illinois) – See all my reviews

Just kidding, I rented 12 Monkeys the other day because I am a huge Bruce Willis fan and I heard some things about the film. Some good and some bad, but it was one of those films you had to pay attention to every second, so I was a bit worried. Just because I felt like for a minute if this was going to be one of those films that I had to watch several times to get. But I watched it last night and I was really impressed, this movie had everything in it: action, drama, sci-fi, history, dark humor, and even a little romance. The actors all did a terrific job, I give a lot of credit to Bruce, during his scene in the car with his psychiatrist, he really got to me. But Brad Pitt, I'm just amazed with how much of a great job he did. He didn't over do his character, who was crazy, and just made it work and was extremely believable. The story was just scary, but very good and a wake up call.

James Cole is a man in the future where a virus broke out in the past and killed 5 billion people and only 1% of the population survived including him. Animals are now ruling the ground above while the humans are down below, but scientists send James to the past of 1990(really meaning to send him to '96), to find out about information of the virus. James gets put into a mental institution meeting his new psychiatrist, Dr. Kathryn Raily and another mental patient, Jeffrey Goines. He tells them the future, of course no one believes him, he goes back to the future. But the scientists send him back to the correct year to where the doctor is kidnapped by James, but he tells her more, and believes him. Now they are set on trying to prevent the virus from ever happening.

12 Monkeys was an incredible film. Like I said the story was so scary just because it's not at all hard to believe that we are not far from that happening. But the whole movie was just great, the cast, the sets, just the whole picture was a great one. It had a Terminator type of feel to it where we might loose something precious one day, ourselves if we don't listen to others. What is right and what is wrong? Who knows? But I would highly recommend 12 Monkeys, it's a great movie that if you give it the proper chance, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.


180 of 209 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I'm really underwhelmed. What did I miss? cartesianthought
One question that's bothered me pferreira86
If Cole knew about the kid in the barn frozenwashcloth
Is this just the 90's? Pr1ceisright
An awfully convenient coincidence? digeridoo-59344
Absolutely Pathetic tsmit67
Discuss Twelve Monkeys (1995) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page