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The 50 Best Sci-Fi Movies

28. 12 Monkeys (1995)

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, Jon Seda

Only a filmmaker as oddly brilliant as Terry Gilliam could take a couple of beloved, big-name actors and make a movie that's about as accessible as A.P. Calculus is to a toddler.

Bruce Willis headlines 12 Monkeys as a prisoner from the year 2035 who's sent back in time to stop a plague; when he shows up in 1990, though, he's tossed into a loony bin, where he meets a jumpy and altogether batshit crazy inmate (played with insane glee by Brad Pitt), a beautiful doctor (Madeleine Stowe), and gets caught up in a race against time.

Like all of Gilliam's flicks, 12 Monkeys is so stuffed with lofty ideas that it borders on convolution, yet he's able to keep viewers enchanted with oddball characters and unpredictable storylines. 12 Monkeys is no different. It's a grim and uncomfortably hilarious head-trip full of narrative hiccups that nevertheless charges into its downbeat ending with wicked exuberance.

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