In the Oscar-nominated 12, director and co-writer Nikita Mikhalkov remakes the 1957 classic 12 Angry Men, but with a modern, Russian twist. The result is a three-hour long epic about 12 jurors who must decide the fate of a Chechen immigrant accused of murder.
12 stars a dozen intense Russian actors who, as one might expect, each bring something a little different to the table. As with other incarnations of the story, the jurors clash and conflict with one another at first but slowly unite around the one thing that matters: the truth. Along the way, we learn what drives these radically different characters, what fuels their anger and motivations.
The movie is well acted, and yet at times over acted. Some of the characters are so intense that it's hard to imagine anyone could survive with such pure energy bursting from the seams. If some of the actors are going over the top, though, they can hardly be blamed; the script and direction calls for it, as at nearly three hours, the movie wouldn't be nearly as entertaining without them. As it stands, all of the actors involved play their characters well.
12 is a compelling movie, for obvious reasons. This is a story that has been redone multiple times, though all pale in comparison to the original. Mikhalkov has created an authentic and slick-looking film, one that clearly has some budget dollars behind it.
Unfortunately, as already stated, it still pales in comparison to the original. The movie is nearly twice as long, and as a result, it begins to feel pretentious after a while. The film expands far beyond what 12 Angry Men ever did, which is fine, but at the expense of its core focus. Mikhalkov drills into the back stories of his characters so much that after a while, the film just unravels.
12 looks good and has all the elements of a great film, but the meat that went into the story to make it nearly twice as long as its inspiration is so extreme and in-depth that by the time the final act rolls around, it's hard to still care.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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