Sunday, May 3, 2009

12 - 3 stars

Twelve Angry Men is one of the greatest movies of all time. Its currently ranked at #9 on's top 250 movies of all time. I watched it last year for the first time since high school, and I was reminded of how good it is. The entire movie takes place in a jury room. A kid is accused of killing his father, but we never find out whether he did it or not. The movie is not so much about the case as its about how justice works. Its also about prejudice. When the jury retires, most of them think they will vote him guilty and be out by lunch. But when the vote is taken, its 11 - 1 in favor of guilty. Henry Fonda's character is the one voting not guilty, and since the vote has to be unanimous, they have to talk it out.

Over the next 90 minutes, they go over the case. We come to realize that the kid is a minority, and some of the jurors believe he is guilty just because of his nationality. There is a powerful moment near the end when the most racist member of the just lets his prejudices all out, and the other jurors stand and face away from him.

I realize I am focusing on Twelve Angry Men rather than 12, and that's because 12 is a remake of that movie. Its easy to say its not as good of a movie, which it isn't, but its hard to evaluate it on its own merits without comparing it to the former version.

This new version takes place in Russia in the current day. The jurors have to turn in their cell phones before they start deliberating. In this case the kid is Chechen. This movie takes place in the jury room, but this time we get to see the kid's backstory. The members of the jury also get more time to talk about themselves. Every one of the jurors gets a lengthy backstory.

The acting is incredible. I enjoyed the performances so much that I almost didn't mind the 2 1/2 hour running time. Almost. Twelve Angry Men worked just fine as a 95 minute movie. But adding an extra hour to this version doesn't make it better. The original gets 4 stars, this new version only gets 3. But 3 stars is still a recommendation.

No comments: