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Twelve Monkeys (1995)

R  |   |  Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller  |  5 January 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 424,604 users   Metascore: 74/100
Reviews: 525 user | 113 critic | 20 from

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 »
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Top 250 Movies #207 | Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »



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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


$29,000,000 (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?


In the 24 hour Alfred Hitchcock theater, James Cole Madeleine Stowe's character watches a scene from Vertigo (1958) which features James Stewart and a character named "Madeleine". See more »


Dr. Railly quotes the Book of Revelation in her lecture, but incorrectly calls it "Revelations". 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 Coming Down the Mountain (2007) See more »


from "Suite Punta Del Este" (Twelve Monkeys Theme)
Written by Astor Piazzolla
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.


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