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A masterpiece based on fantasy
wondercritic20 April 2008
This is a masterpiece. The beauty of the film is in its simplicity. Almost the whole thing takes place in a high school gymnasium, around a long table around which the twelve jurors sit. Every performance is superb, including that of the director, who plays the foreman, and Sergei Garmash as the cab driver juror. The screenplay follows the tortuous deliberations, in which every juror has at least one soliloquy. Excellent camera-work and lighting augment the heavy drama.

It is more likely in Russia today that twelve whites would end up forming a jury, although less so that no women would be serving. Director Nikita Mikhalkov evidently chose to remain faithful that much to the American movie on which his is based, Twelve Angry Men. One wonders whether it might have been more interesting with women jurors contributing their anguish to the picture, and since this version is simply titled 12, the possibility of including a woman or two (as would be realistic in this day and age) was presumably open. Also, the film is not realistic in the sense that Russia does not have a jury system, therefore this situation would not arise in real life. What Mikhalkov was probably trying to do was to create a morality play, and this he does magnificently. These criticisms are therefore minor. This is a wonderful piece of work.

As the film is starting, for those who know Russian, one sees the logo of "Patriotic Films." This may cause groans among those who know more about Russia. Patriotic Russians today seem reactionary and defensive to many Westerners. But Mikhalkov does not dance around the sensitive race issue at the core of the plot, a Chechen boy accused of murdering his stepfather, a Russian military officer, and facing life in prison. Mikhalkov's main interest really is in truth, justice and honesty. The idea of these qualities as components of "patriotism" actually lies at the core of this story, and it is brilliantly executed. By the end, if you can suppress cynicism and believe that this many men of conscience could assemble in one place in Russia today, you will be moved to tears. This is a major achievement.
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Not a remake, but an investigation into today's Russia
Francesco8 September 2007
Sure, it is difficult and will be difficult for all those who have seen Sidney Lumet's Twelve angry men to avoid recalling part of that wonderful movie where, like in this, we move between great characters and excellent actors to investigate about the meaning of personal involvement in the life of a community.

However, apart from the similar elements that we'll find, this movie achieves, as only a few films have done, to investigate the mechanisms of the current Russian society from the inside. Michalkov is greatly helped in this task not only by an excellent scenario and direction but also by a cast of actors that achieves perfection (including himself as the president of the jury).

The picture of the Russia of today is not optimistic (I would be tempted to say that rarely this has been the case in Russian history), and what appears clear is the capacity of the Russian people, that also emerge from the Russian literature and opera, to struggle and survive in the middle of chaos and brutality. If there is hope, it is in the tenacity of the individuals to be committed to fight...but when will this fight come to a (positive) end?
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An encouraging thoughts film
DeKiska27 February 2008
A remake of a famous praised film is always a high-risk project, because a director takes risks to lapse into blind imitation. Fortunately Mikhalkov has enough talent and experience to rethink "12 Angry Men" by Sidney Lumet, to pass it through his own identity and produce an absolutely new and fresh film. This thought-provoking film surpassed all my expectations. Though it is a remake of an American movie, its plot is rooted in Russian reality. It reflects a lot of society's ills and nation's fears. I was deeply moved and fully satisfied with totally naturalistic dialogues. To my mind all-star cast played with miraculous virtuosity. The characters are true to life and I am sure that any Russian will be able to recognize himself in one of these 12 men. "12" is a stunning and intense drama with a large pool of talented actors, which leaves a lasting impression with you.
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A Dozen Agitated Comrades
David Ferguson5 April 2009
Greetings again from the darkness. Not sure why this one took so long to gain distribution, but it was definitely worth the wait! This is a terrific interpretation of the story made famous in the classic 1957 Sidney Lumet version.

Director Nikita Mikhalkov, who has an Academy Award for his "Burnt by the Sun", tweaks the story by having a Chechan teenager accused of killing his uncle/stepfather. The story revolves around the prejudices and preconceived ideas that each of the twelve jurors bring with them into the makeshift deliberation room. Here a school gymnasium provides an interesting backdrop.

As with the original, the suspense builds slowly as each of the characters' back stories unfold as if we are reading a book ... one at a time. We find ourselves, as the viewer, passing judgment on each juror, just as they pass judgment on the accused.

The cast is exceptional and varied, which allows the script to work its magic. Whether you are a fan of the original or just enjoy character studies, this one is a must see.
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A Worthy (and very Russian) Homage to the Original
JSL2615 February 2008
Some of the IMDb commenters are a bit tough on this film for having some characters that verged on caricature. I see their point, but I think it is a bit unfair here. Given that this was an homage to the original (on its 50th anniversary), Mikhalkov had to take its basic plot as his foundation. That necessarily drained much of the drama from the story—-we know which way the countdown is going to proceed. It also forced him to deal with all 12 men.

Thus, what can he do to keep it interesting? He (1) features the ensemble acting—-terrific even to me as a non-Russian speaker, (2) highlighted the characters' weaknesses, including some human and Russian traits that have to be a bit outsized, (3) added a detached but affecting commentary on brutality of the Chechnya war and the tendency for Muscovites to see Chechens as monolithic, and (4) threw in a few plot wrinkles at the end. Given the constraints he faced, I thought it was a fine adaptation—and was thoroughly engrossing. Mikhalkov himself, as the jury foreman, is a commanding screen presence as well.
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This movie - simply A Masterpiece.
martulis-112 October 2007
This movie again proves that Mr. Mikhalkov is Genius and Russia should be proud of such man like him. This movie is truly a masterpiece because of great acting, interesting story, and beautiful conversation scenes. I recommend such movie for a viewer, who is tired from popular Hollywood big-budget films (i'm not saying they are bad) and wants to try something new, unexpected but enjoyable. If you are intelligent, you will like this film and you will be amazed of how professionally it is made and at the end of a movie you surely won't be thinking "why i spent almost two and a half hours of my life watching this?".

So, i recommend not to be scared of the length and 20 minutes of boredom at the beginning and watch this Masterpiece in every detail.
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Deserves a 12 instead of a 10!
Syl14 February 2012
Even though, it's a loosely based version of the play, 12 Angry Men. The film is about 12 Russian male jurors who decide the fate of a Chechyen orphan who is accused of killing his stepfather, a Russian soldier and officer. Anyway, the film is done quite well with a fantastic cast of actors who each take a turn in defending their guilty to not guilty decision on the basis of the boy. Each actor takes a dramatic turn and we learn about their reasoning and rationale for their decision. It's a fascinating portrait and study of the Russian judicial system and an event such as the Chechyen War conflict which I don't know much about except from the film that it's bloody, dangerous, and unforgiving hell. The boy and the jurors aren't given names but each possess great performances in dramatic film. This Russian film is terrific and was nominated for the Academy Award for foreign language film. I wonder who it lost too because it's a great film and worth watching.
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Jury plays god to a man, Mikhalkov plays god to a jury
maxi-1812 December 2007
The movie is bipolar. The upsides: great performances by many great actors; a view that the movie provides into the minds of contemporary Russians; and watching 12 post-post-Soviet (yet born and raised Soviet) people engaged in the a very Western activity, where their universal human feelings are intermixed with ways of thinking and arguing that are skewed by the history and problems of Russian society. Having characters give monologues in a single-room setting works very well for the theatrically-trained actors. Also, the discussion of society's problems and human responsibilities is refreshingly serious, in a big contrast to most post-Soviet expression, which tends to be extremely cynical (as argued quiet well by Efremov's character).

Downsides: certain characters are shallow caricatures clearly used to express Mikhalkov's personal tastes; way too many stretches in the plot; and the ending/punchline. Mikhalkov turns everything on its head in the end, very unconvincingly trying to argue that "freedom is slavery" and negating any civic benefit that the movie could have. This argument is basically a restatement of his political goals, most recently expressed off-screen by an open letter to Putin in the name of "all Russian artists" begging him to stay another term. Ironically, the argument is presented so weakly and crudely that Mikhalkov ends up shooting himself in a foot.
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Walkthroug to the Wide Russian Soul
d_aleksandrov20 July 2008
"In a scene showing a Chechen town the writing on the wall says "Don't shoot. Only women and children here" but only in Russian. In Chechnia all signs like that were written in three languages - Russian, Chechen and Arabic because Middle Eastern mercenaries participating the conflict could not read in Russian. Besides, it's difficult to believe someone would put such a sign and thus indicate there is SOMEONE in there." In Russia EVERYTHING is believable, that's what Nikita Mikhalkov wants to say. This movie is a fiction, don't forget it! But all the stories told in it are possible and the way of thinking of these people may be hard to understand, but it's true. This film is a cut through the Russian Soul and it's great.
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Jury deliberations turned into operatic national debate
Chris Knipp13 March 2009
In Mikhalkov's preposterously overblown remake of Sydney Lumet's Fifties jury deliberation drama 'Twelve Angry Men,' a Chechan teenager (Apti Magamaev) is on trial for the murder of his adoptive Russian father. To begin with, as in the Fifties movie, one man initiates a long complicated process of reevaluation by voting "not guilty" when everyone was prepared to send the boy off to life imprisonment and go quickly on their way. In the original he was Henry Fonda, whose air of probity was impeccable. This time he's a successful inventor with a lurid alcoholic past (Sergey Makovetsky) and he sets no standard of probity. Though "reasonable doubt" is mentioned (one of the jurors has studied at Harvard and has the phrase in his head), the dissident vote has no logical or specific basis. He just sort of thinks it was a good idea to vote the other way.

Forget what happened in court; the meaning of the case; the analysis of the evidence presented. '12' focuses on the lives, the traumas and prejudices of the participants; the turmoils of a nation--and finally, most peculiarly, on what's best for the accused, be he innocent or guilty.

'12' is elaborate, illogical, and absurd. In terms of jury deliberation it is absolutely ridiculous. But it puts on a great show.

We are somewhere around Moscow. The twelve worn out, middle-aged men are locked by the bailiff in a school gym. And this is emblematic of the film's style. The men may be locked in, but they have a lot of room to play around in. No mere solemn deliberations around a long table for them--though there is a long table, and they do intermittently sit at it, these heavy-set, darkly garbed men, with a cluster of plastic water bottles in front of them.

Never for very long, though. In the course of the drama the twelve jurors throw a ball at a basketball net and a hypodermic at a dart board, or lift weights or play a piano. They restage the crime in a mockup of two matching apartments. They throw knives, and to prove a point, one threatens to stab another. They wander around, smoke, send off alarms, throw up, rage, sob. Mikhalkov is shamelessly prepared to do absolutely anything to keep this from being just a lot of talk. Hence the gym and all its accouterments, which include a giant disco reflector ball, an auxiliary lighting system, moments of total darkness, candlelight and spotlights, a large decaying heating pipe, and a wheelchair. And, the corniest possible symbol of confinement--a lone sparrow. And a series of independent "arias" when one juror or another gets up and does a long dramatic monologue about himself.

But that isn't enough. In the middle, there is a giant explosion, and there begin a series of flashbacks to the Chechan war, with fires and bombs and a dog running past the camera with a severed hand in its mouth. There are also many images of the accused as a boy, cowering among the rubble, or as a prisoner, dancing around in his cell in a down coat to keep warm.

Nonetheless '12's so successfully full of itself that it makes its over two and a half hours go by before you know it--despite a lot of wasted time and sloppy excess. Through the jurors' wild digressive monologues Mikhalkov and his co-writers Vladimir Moiseenko and Alexander Novototsky-Vlasov almost succeed in redefining what deliberations are about. But ultimately they are simply distracting us from the fact that he's only using the deliberations as a hook on which to hang all his thoughts about Russia's modern journey and the meaning of life.

The deliberations, therefore, aren't about the case. They're about the jurors (this figures in Lumet's film too, but more quietly). A belligerent bigot cab driver (Sergey Garmash) calls Chechans "savages" and assumes the boy is guilty. He attacks the elderly Jewish intellectual (Valentin Gaft) who's the second to switch his vote to "not guilty." He intimidates the Harvard man, a TV producer and a caricature (Yuri Stoyanov) into a fit of nausea and paranoia that leads him to change his vote back to "guilty." And later a reenactment awakens such painful contrition over his own violence as a father that he switches, late in the game, to "not guilty" himself.

A surgeon (Sergey Gazarov) sympathizes with the boy because of his Caucasian origins. A self-made man with sympathies for the underdog, he rejects the cabbie's bigotry early on. He also does a carnival turn showing off his back-home skill at knife-twirling. The director himself plays the jury foreman, who has his own surprise twist toward the end to disrupt things after it seems unanimity has been achieved at last.

What are we to make of all this? It must be seen more as an epic, operatic riff on the theme of Twelve Angry Men than a contemporary Russian re-imagining of its original concept. The concept of the law is remote from ours. In fact there is an epigraph to the effect that though the law is steadfast, mercy may take precedence over it. And there is no doubt about the reasonableness (amid all that is surreal here) of such concepts coming to mind when jurors must deliberate in a murder trial.

I lost tract of the reasons why various jurors changed their minds. When one did, usually somebody else followed suit. It was to be expected. One forgot to ask why. And in the end, '12' violates our essential notions of what a jury trial is about: that it has to do with arriving at a fair and accurate decision about a specific case. This can't possibly be called a good movie. But it's too vivid, entertaining, and rich in ideas to dismiss out of hand. As an artifact of contemporary Russia it is a mine of information--though all to be taken with a grain of salt.
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11 + 1
Galina11 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
A loose remake of Sidney Lumett "12 Angry Men" (1957) which was made by the words of its creator to honor the 50th anniversary of the beloved classic , "12" set in 2007 in a gym of one of the Moscow High Schools where the other "12 angry men" are struggling to decide the fate of a Chechen teenager who is charged with the murder of his Russian stepfather, the Army Officer, the Veteran of Chechen war who had adopted the boy after his mother and father were both killed. All evidences point at the boy, and there are the testaments of the eye-witnesses against him.

I personally believe that "12" (2207) is a bad movie, with the huge holes in the plot, with the characters that are more of caricatures and clichés than the real 12 angry men representing the different layers of the modern Russian society , and with the good actors giving overheated non-convincing performances that often sounded false and made me cringe. To top it all, Mikhalkov took it upon himself a role of God-like figure who is above the laws and who knows better than anyone else what is good for the particular case, for the law, and for the whole country. I am a big fan of earlier Mikhalkov's films. He is a talented filmmaker. He's made more than few films he could be justly proud of. Among them "Friend Among Strangers, Stranger Among Friends", 1974) - simply great, it was first film Nikita Mikhalkov directed and starred and it was first Russian Art-action movie that takes place during the Civil War of the 1918-1921. It is fun - clever, nicely shot, and wonderfully acted by the best actors of the time. Is regarded as one of the best "Easterns", the western: Russian style and is almost as popular and beloved as the masterpiece of the genre, ""White Sun of Desert". There is also "Slave of Love" (1976) with the incredible performance by the Muse of his earlier films, Yelena Solovey as a doomed silent screen star in the shattering world of the Russian Revolution of the 1917 and the following Civil War of 1918-1921. The final scene of the movie - Olga Voznesenskaya (Solovey) in the runaway tram is heart-breaking and tragically beautiful. Mikhalkov's adaptations of the Goncharov's "Oblomov" and Chekhov's "Platonov" are first rate and proved his taste, talent, cinematic vision, and ability to get the fine performances from all his actors. He was successful in creating smaller, chamber compelling pieces with only few main characters, like "Five Evenings (1979) and "Without Witness" (1983). He deservingly won the Oscar for "Burnt by the Sun" (1994) which I see as the tragic sequel to his earlier masterpiece, "Unfinished Piece for Mechanical Piano". It went down the hill after his Oscar victory. "The Barber of Siberia" (1998) was nothing more than a glossy post card - "From Russia with Love". I think he only made it to be able to play the Russian Emperor Alexander III. And now - "12", 12 jurors or 11 apostles following who? "V belom venchike iz roz vperedi Isus Christos" ("In a white roses nimbus on his head, Jesus Christ is walking ahead")? Is that the role Nikita Mikhalkov wants to play in the movie and in the reality?
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A very well made movie full of lies and propaganda.
mike-267621 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This movie has probably been one of the worst things I have ever seen. What makes it even worse is that the technique is great. Most actors are strong and there is real emotion in the movie. The problem is with the idea behind it.

Unfortunately, there is no way to review this movie as purely artistic piece, since it is based on a very political agenda. The movie can be seen as the world according to Mikhalkov (who directed the film and starred in it in a role of wise, honest and so on "Russian officer"). All of the stories told by characters are very impressive, much more so than in the original Lumet film but each and every one of them is fake, an unreal, stereotypical look at the 1990s when the country actually experienced one of its greatest moments. But characters only seem to remember crime. All kinds of crime. The characters who would in real life be much more vocal and reasonable are portrayed as clowns or idiots. There is no place for them at this feast.

What makes itanother thousand times worse for me is that Mikhalkov lost the main idea of the original. The reasonable doubt. No. Here we know everything for sure. Of course it is obvious to the Russian officer who killed whom. But the point should have been that it is enough to doubt the evidence not to have evidence against someone else. And obviously the evil killer is the capitalist real estate company.

Most Western viewers will not see those inconsistencies within the movie. They will just again be scared of "this awful life in those uncivilised countries" and this "horrible, horrible capitalism and those poor Russians". Well, thank you. We are actually doing fine. Not all of us are losers, we did a great thing in the 90s and we don't need your lazy sympathy. But if you like it so much please, please take Mikhalkov away from us.
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Very interesting!
H Zimmerman12 January 2008
I noticed that this page was reviewed by over 1000 people. Most of them were very positive of the movie (according to the rating) but did not make any remarks. That's good!

I would like to make a few: N. Mikhalkov's plot of that same play (12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose) which was used to make the 1957's movie is certainly more elaborate and complete. While the Lumet's movie was a considerable advantage in his age, it has a number of holes and, most of all, holes in the storyline.

For starters, if you disagree:

1. in the 1957 classic, we do not receive the answer: who was the real killer and WHY. This question is not even discussed. Everyone present, including the personage so well played by H. Fonda ("Davis"), seems to be interested just in getting away ASAP. The only difference between Davis and the others is that the architect Davis wants to get away with his conscience clean. Admirable purpose, surely, but quite limited.

Compare this aspect with Mikhalkov's remake...

2. The 1957 version, despite all of its advantages, gives us no perspective whatsoever. So what, really, just happened? Some guy, apparently a skilled leader, just managed to convince 11 other guys using common sense, logic and manipulation as necessary. Everyone happily leaves the room and the boy, possibly, becomes multimillionaire from the sales of the movie "12 Angry Men"... Unrealistic scenario, at best.

3. Although we learn from 1957's about biases and prejudices of everyone (and that is the strongest side of the old movie), we still do not see the present men as real people (with the exception, perhaps, of the Davis personage and the old man). They do look mostly like automatons (to me, at least).

I can continue in this vein for quite some time. The point is (if I were to make a point) is that if you want only superfluities of the plot, then 1957 version will suffice. If you want to go deeper than mere jurisdiction, then you go watch Mikhalkov's remake (in Russian, if you can) H. Zimmerman, PhD, M.D.
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Still shocked
kiramorena19 October 2010
I watched this movie because I had nothing better to do at the moment. I wasn't really paying attention at the beginning, but then, it sucked me in... somewhere around the middle, I was sitting speechless, with my mouth open and in shock - how come I never heard anything about this masterpiece before?! The movie easily made it's way to my 'top 5 movies of all time' list, and I recommend it to everybody who like inconvenient, intelligent and brave stories. One more thing - try to stay out of the 'political background', 'propaganda', 'bad copy of a classic' talking, just enjoy the magnificent acting and the touching story that leaves all of us with divided opinions, but forces us to think about it, over and over again. That's the whole point!
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A meager attempt to climb the Cinema mountain
BorisV24 October 2007
It fails in comparison not only to original "12 Angry Men", but to many great films by Nikita Mikhalkov himself. I mean the ones he made 25-30 years ago.

"12" is shallow and pretentious at best, but with some rather formidable actor's performances. Through the whole movie you can't get rid of this strange taste in your mouth: director is more concerned how to impress you, rather than to discover the truth. This is really pity since the author still has some ammunition to impress you with, from being an excellent actor himself, to displaying a good craftsmanship here and there. But what's the point?

It might even get an Oscar, though. Well, it's not the first corny and superficial movie in that category, and certainly not the last.
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Superb Performances (but some audio problems for me.)
imxo25 April 2009
I found this movie to be a theatrical feast, but with a couple of nagging annoyances.

I want to get the annoying parts off my chest first, because chronologically that's how I encountered the movie. It seems to me that Russians have never mastered the art of sound mixing. Whether in old Soviet films or in this modern Russian one, there is always something not quite right with the sound.

As the film began I found that the background noises were much louder than the speech of the actors. The sounds of doors slamming, children yelling, workers working, and so on were loud and clear, but the actors' voices were practically whispers in that maelstrom. I don't know why that is. Could it be only in the foreign, sub-titled version of the film? I don't see complaints about the sound levels from anyone else, but I'm pretty sure it's not just me. I desperately wanted to listen to the Russian dialog, but the low audio level of the voices forced me to read the sub-titles throughout most of the film. It was a bit like walking with a small stone in my shoe.

Not having seen the "12 Angry Men" movie on which this current film was based, I was forced to accept "12" on its own merits. Thus, I experienced this film not as a remake of a previous movie, but as a filmed a stage play with phenomenal actors. Perhaps as a result, I unequivocally enjoyed this acting extravaganza. There may have been some occasional carpet chewing, but overall the performances were astounding. I certainly wish the IMDb list of players had more information about who played which role and had more biographical information about the individual actors. Perhaps someone familiar with Russian films and actors could throw more light on the matter. Much the same criticism, of course, could apply to IMDb's level of information on foreign films in general.

Frankly, I didn't take the matter of the guilt or innocence of the "accused" very seriously. With all the theorizing the jurors were doing, and with the serious lack of real information for us in the audience, there was absolutely no way to determine real guilt or innocence. If anything, the flashback scenes were more confusing than enlightening. So, as far as I was concerned, it was the jurors, particularly the "Great Russians" among them - who were at the center of the film. Watching their "paralysis by analysis" was the real treat, irrespective of whether they reached the right conclusion in the end. As far as that conclusion is concerned, I have no idea what Mikhalkov means by it. His own screen character was obviously implying that he has a unique insight into things, intimating that perhaps he had been at one time in the KGB, GRU, or had been a member of some other allegedly all-knowing organization? Frankly, this was a bit off-putting and seemed to imply that the State and its workers knew things that the average citizen just hadn't a need to know. In any event, despite having a relatively modest role for most of the film, at the end Mikhalkov came a little too much to the fore for my taste. I'd be very happy to read a Russian reviewer's explanation of Mikhalkov's character.

A word or two about the depiction of Chechens. The music, dancing, and overwhelming maleness of Chechen culture were solidly, if briefly, presented. One certainly cannot stereotype all Chechen men as being similar to the Chechen fighters depicted in this film, but the characterization of those fighters was phenomenal. In this film the Chechens fighters' raw power to intimidate, threaten, and attack their enemies those was palpable. I'm aware that even Alexander Solzhenitsyn praised the indomitable culture of Chechens in the Gulag. They just never, ever, yielded to the Soviets.

So, I rate this film very highly. Perhaps I'm missing the film's more subtle propaganda that some here have mentioned, but that's something I can continue to think more about. I highly recommend "12."
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Turgid remake of a pithy classic
Roland E. Zwick11 September 2009
"12" is two title-words shorter and a full sixty-three minutes longer than "Twelve Angry Men," the 1957 Sydney Lumet classic on which this turgid Russian drama is based. Despite the obvious language difference, the Nikita Mikhalkov/Alexandr Novotosky/Vladimir Moiseyenko screenplay follows the Reginald Rose original - which began life as a "Studio One" teleplay in 1954 - fairly closely in form and outline. Again, eleven members of a jury stand ready to convict a young man of first-degree murder (in this case, for killing his foster father, an officer in the Russian army, for money) - until, that is, the lone holdout is able to sow enough doubt in the other jurors' minds to eventually get them to vote his way. And while in the original film the suspect faced racism and xenophobia on account of his being Hispanic, the suspect here suffers a similar fate for being Chechnyan.

In the central role of the original dissenter, Sergei Makovetsky lacks the easily recognizable charm and charisma of Henry Fonda - and while this may make him a bit more believable as an "everyman" figure, it also makes him a less compelling focal point for a drama that takes far too long to play itself out. The extended length results, primarily, from the inclusion of brief flashbacks to the defendant's past, recounting the lead-up to the crime and the crime itself, as well as from individual speeches that drone on long past the point where any point can still be made. Each of the twelve jurors gets his moment in the spotlight to ham it up and declaim wildly on his theories about the case, his hatred of one ethnic group or another (in addition to anti-Chechnya sentiment, there's a great deal of anti-Semitism floating around the room as well), and the deplorable state of life in Russia - till the point where we no longer care about these people or the decision they're being forced to make. Eventually, we just want to get out of that place as badly as the men who are trapped inside it. And not all the talk about the Russian soul, not all the discussions of national politics or personal spleen-venting on the part of the participants can make us care one iota about the drama that's unfolding.

The question one must finally ask when watching "12" is why anyone would want to take a work like "Twelve Angry Men," celebrated for its brevity and dramatic precision, and turn it into a lumbering, ponderous, elephantine bore - replete with endless speechifying and scenery-chewing performances. Why indeed!
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This film is too Hollywood
yel20062 April 2008
What I didn't like in "12" I still have to formulate. It wasn't that it was one of Mikhalkov's films (although I have little respect for the man). However, I really like some of his early films. Oblomov is excellent. Five Evenings, An Unfinished Piece for a Player Piano are very good films. It wasn't the propaganda in "12" that I personally didn't like. Although this film is full of it. It wasn't the story. I think the story had a lot of potential. What irritated me throughout the film is that it was made to imitate the worst Hollywood films in which rapid movements of the camera and the characters are used to make up for the absence of thoughtfulness and good acting. The characters are jumping, running, roaming around, throwing things, saying things that are out of place, interrupting each other. This is all so unnatural, so unrealistic, and so Hollywood. This film is made for Americans with a short attention span, not for Russians. Russian film tradition is making "slow" films that focus on good acting and an idea, not on rapid camera movements and quickly changing scenes. Cheap Hollywood effects had no place in good Russian movies. I guess Mikhalkov was aiming for American audience and Oscar which he didn't get anyway.
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Good, but more social commentary than art
victorboston24 January 2009
"12" is well shot and decently acted, however, it never for a moment let's you forget that this isn't just an adaptation, this is a movie with a purpose - a modern morality play for Russians. Mikhalkov is trying to stir his nation's conscience, to call its people to act rather than lounge about in cynical resignation. I accept Mikhalkov's purpose, but I don't think it justifies characters that are at times painfully flat and symbolism that is frequently as direct as an express train. I'll recommend ''12'' to anyone interested in Russian psychology and society (it's certainly worth watching), but I won't call it a masterpiece.
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Another great "purely Russian" movie.
asseveratio9 November 2007
It is generally accepted that Mikhalkov's "12" is remake of "12 Angry men" (1957). I reviewed both of them in succession yesterday. So, these movies are completely different!

So, 12 members of "blue-ribbon jury" represent almost all of social classes in Russia. Virtually all of them are successful and rich, but the movie goes on narrating that these people got their prosperity via "different" ways. Each of them tells his dramatic story and someone's opinion changes. We see triumph of justice in Lumet's one and here it's triumph of charity.

It's purely Russian movie so I can hardly understand that non-Russian can enjoy it.
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Nothing but pure emotion
milchenko884 March 2009
The film overall is a Modern Russian Masterpiece. There are no other films like it in Russia, that what makes it unique. Mihalkov wanted to do this film all his life.

But of course to understand it fully, you need to know the actors, how they play in other films, their style, Mihalkov just gave them the script and the rest they did themselves. The director let them loose sort of speak. For those who know Makovetskiy, Yefremov, Gaft, Stoyanov, will understand what I mean.

Pure emotion lifted me up after about 15 min into the film and never left until about 2 days after the film :) I wouldn't compare it to 12 angry men... "12" is a Russian film, with Russian spirit, but for everyone in the world to see and feel and realise what the director wanted you to.

Watch it, you will think about "life", kindness, yourself and others.
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'12 Angry Men' met in Russia…and I am glad
imdbfriend27 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
First and foremost the movie is 'almost' a remake (loose remake) of English classic 12 angry men, both dealing with 12 jurors attempting to make a judgment of teenager's fate with the limited information they have. This is the 3rd version of 12 angry men including original that I have seen and liked it equally; the other one is "Ek Ruka Hua Faisla" from India. I used 'almost' earlier because in this Russian version it's the politics/war (Chechnya-Russia relations) in the backdrop and also the ending is twisted to a certain extent. Now that being said, I will only talk about this movie here but do keep in mind that many points will actually apply to original one too (both pros and cons).

The plot involves 12 jurors attempting to make an important decision on Chechnya teenager charged with the murder of his Russian step father. The jurors are accommodated in school gym, which for me was one of the major pros and works so well with the script, as the actors got some props like piano, soccer ball, wheel chair, weights and which are all used at one point or other to great success. Also the huge space allows the actors free movement around the gym, to reconstruct the crime scene based on floor plans, plus one of the best scene in the movie would not have been possible if not for the space.

Pros: The characters are well defined, everyone gets chance to explain their situation and find relevance to the case, or why their vote is swinging from guilty to not guilty and so forth. The actors performing their respective characters are very believable. The film moves at a good pace and at times explodes out with some great acting. One of such scene is when a cab driver explains "what if" scenario to producer sitting on a wheel chair, it is as good as it gets and the actors performing this are in top form. The use of wheelchair, gym instruments, soccer ball and space just makes it even more worth watching. Then there is a scene where doctor starts dancing with the knife is again top quality. There are other scenes too which are equally good and wonderfully played by all the actors. Dialogues are at times really witty (esp. when taxi driver talks about his new girlfriend), dramatic, and emotional at times. Nikita Mikhalkov is at the top of his game, direction wise. Then there is a little twist towards the end which makes movie even good.

Cons: The only con with the movie is the way jurors come to the decision which is solely based on the guess work and their better judgments of character and people. But again it is already made clear to us that the defense lawyer didn't present the case with great enthusiasm, so eventually all the jurors reasoning actually makes sense to us, even though not supported by actual evidence. But then in the end we know for fact that the boy is indeed innocent, and we can finally sigh, good work jurors!!

You might really enjoy 12 even if either you haven't seen 12 Angry Men, or if you did watch English classic and don't fall in comparison trap. I enjoyed and liked both these movies!
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Grand opera
sergepesic12 October 2009
Immensely talented Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov left a lasting impression on this viewer with" Burnt by the Sun", heart-wrenching judgment on the Stalin purges of the 1930' and 40'. This time he makes completely different kind of movie. "12" is like a passionate grand opera, filled with larger then life gestures, and solo speaking arias. The clownish humor mixed with despair, mockery with condemnation. Mikhalkov's Russia of the early 21 century is like a leaky, drafty gymnasium that movie is set in. People lost and sometimes found, scared and scarred,brutish and intimidated, but one and all, full of zest for living and convoluted stories to tell.Nobody is understood and everybody is wrong, but themselves. Director's love for Russia is endless and his desire for its wellbeing feeds his courage and determination to share few painful truths, hoping that his unpleasant message will be heard.
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A Retrospective
Omid_M12 January 2009
Watching Nikita Mikhalkov'12 for the first time is a special experience depends on you watched the original masterpiece made by Sydney Lumet(12 Angry Men) or not.It is obviously an adaption wisely in accordance with Russian patterns,which in my opinion is an big advantage(to accordance fine movies to your country common methods and points of views and not just copy them).

In both versions you can see the genuinely simple courtroom plot that can entertain audience and influence them.I should add that my favorite genre after Noir is Courtroom Drama(that may not consider as an independent genre by some critics)and I admit that 12 may not be one of the top movies of this genre but I recommend it to all of the genre fans and particularly to whom have seen the 12 Angry Men(1957),because it shows us how the classic film is eternal and fresh if you compare it to Mikhalkov's version and also teach us how to pay respect to fine old movies yet have something new to tell.
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12 by Nikita Mikhalkov
donfarraon1 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A perfect reality film to see. 12 different opinions, 12 different life styles and 1 suspect...

12 Russian jury's versus 1 Chechen youth. Russia vs Chechnya... WAR!!!

Are you man enough to be a human???

How to judge and how to decide to be honestly?!?!?!?

Is it possible to think and dare to say same thing loud?!?!?

Director N.Mikhalkov show's in his movie how difficult it is. Almosty everybody can blame you. Except this all he shows the situation where you will see the relation between jury and they attitude in such deciding moment.

After this film you will look to the life from another angle. It will makes you think better before to do or to decide something. No mistakes are aloud...
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