Directed by Nikita Mikhalkov (Burnt by the Sun)
Rated PG-13 for violent images, disturbing content, thematic material, brief sexual and drug references, and smoking
Russian language with English subtitles
12 is at its heart a remake of 12 Angry Men told in modern-day Russia. Twelve jurors must decide the fate of a young Chechen teenager accused of killing his stepfather. What appears at first to be an open and shut case turns to hours of discussion as one juror convinces the rest that perhaps they should discuss the case in full detail before they pass such a quick judgment.
When I had heard that a remake of 12 Angry Men was one of the five Oscar-nominated films for best foreign film, I thought that the voters had lost their minds, especially considering the wonderful films that were left out. But then I saw the film and I can see what the Academy was excited about. The story is essentially the same, and that’s fine since it makes for a brilliant drama. The changes in case and culture however are fascinating. Learning of the similarities and differences in our countries told from the jury room makes for a compelling movie experience that feels fresh even though the story is familiar.
While the directing gets a little overly artistic at times, the acting by the twelve men is remarkable. You get to each one in a very intimate way that makes you care about not only the case, but the impact it might have on them. And the use of the story of the young prisoner creates an empathy that the original story lacked. I found this movie to be not only entertaining, but though-provoking as well. That’s a hard combo to get at the movies. A-