Up 3 this week

Twelve Monkeys (1995)

R  |   |  Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller  |  5 January 1996 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.1/10 from 431,137 users   Metascore: 74/100
Reviews: 528 user | 137 critic | 20 from Metacritic.com

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 »
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

Top Rated Movies #206 | Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Donnie Darko (2001)
Drama | Sci-Fi
    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
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 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
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
    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 T.V. show.

Director: Peter Weir
Stars: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney
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
Action | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 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
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 wife Holly Gennaro and several others, 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
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
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
Crime | Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

In future Britain, charismatic delinquent Alex DeLarge is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society's crime problem - but not all goes according to plan.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The Bride wakens from a four-year coma. The child she carried in her womb is gone. Now she must wreak vengeance on the team of assassins who betrayed her - a team she was once part of.

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Daryl Hannah
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


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 <vertigo@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The future is history. 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


$29,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£1,320,430 (UK) (19 April 1996)


£3,532,343 (UK) (17 May 1996)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Johnny Depp was considered for the role of Jeffrey Goines. See more »


When Cole is lying under the Land Rover outside the party for Dr. Goines, the front license plate is from Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has not used front license plates in over 30-40 years. 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 »


References All My Children (1970) See more »


Written by Bob Spickard, Brian Carman
Performed by The Chantays
Courtesy of MCA Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

This is amazing stuff
15 August 2005 | by (Tessenderlo, Belgium) – See all my reviews

Normally I try to avoid Sci-Fi movies as much as I can, because this just isn't a genre that really appeals to me. Light sabers, UFO's, aliens, time traveling... most of the time it's nothing for me. However, there is one movie in the genre that I'll always give a place in my list of top movies and that's this "Twelve Monkeys" I remember to be completely blown away by it the first time, but even now, after having it seen several times already, I'm still one of its biggest fans. Every time I see it, this movie seems to get better and better.

Somewhere in the distant future all people live underground because an unknown and lethal virus wiped out five billion people in 1996, leaving only 1 percent of the population alive. James Cole is one of them. He's a prisoner who lives in a small cage and who is chosen as a 'volunteer' to be sent back to in time to gather information about the origin of the epidemic. They believe it was spread by a mysterious group called 'The Twelve Monkeys' and need the virus before it mutated, so that scientists can study it. But their time traveling machine doesn't work perfectly yet and he is accidentally sent to 1990, where he meets Dr. Kathryn Railly, a psychiatrist, and Jeffrey Goines, the insane son of a famous scientist and virus expert...

What I like so much about this movie is the fact that it is never clear whether all what you are seeing is real or not. Is this just an illusion, created in the mind of a mentally ill man or is it real? Does he really come from the future and can he really travel through time? Was the population really wiped out by a virus, released by the army of The Twelve Monkeys? Those are all questions that will leave you wondering from the beginning until the end. If the makers of this movie had chosen to make it all more obvious, I'm sure that I would never have liked it as much as I did now. It's just that mysteriousness that keeps me interested time after time. But that's not the only good thing about this movie of course. The acting is amazing too. Normally I'm not too much a fan of Bruce Willis, but what he did in this movie was just astonishing. Together with Madeleine Stowe and Brad Pitt he should have won several awards for it, because together with the amazing story, they made this movie work so incredibly well.

Even after several viewings, I'm still a huge fan of this movie. Except for this movie, I have only seen one other Terry Gilliam movie and that's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", which wasn't bad, but didn't really convince me either. However, it's this movie that really makes me look forward to his other work. I give it a 9/10, maybe even a 9.5/10.

62 of 77 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
An awfully convenient coincidence? digeridoo-59344
Is this just the 90's? Pr1ceisright
Absolutely Pathetic tsmit67
Why live underground? imdb-2920
Brad Pitt's Best performance ever? sherrilrichardson
Why did Dr Kathryn Railly feel she'd met Cole before? kieron39
Discuss Twelve Monkeys (1995) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page