Posted by schnolis on April 12th, 2009 filed in Reviews

12I’m a huge fan of the story of 12 Angry Men. I’ve seen it performed as a play, seen the 1957 Sidney Lumet movie, and even read the original text. It’s a fantastic story about a jury of 12 unnamed men who deliberate on the murder case presented to them in court. It seems almost like a foregone conclusion that the defendant will be found guilty. But, one man decides to actually think things through before reaching a decision, and in the process discovers some fatal flaws in the prosecutor’s case.

This movie, however, adds some extra elements. It’s set in Russia and the defendant is a Chechnan teenager charged with killing his stepfather. Almost nobody has much sympathy to this youth. Added to this mix though we the viewers get to flash back to certain moments in the life of the defendant, and observe his troubled life. Also, the stories of the jury members are updated, and many new back stories are created to give the deliberations some life.

Unfortunately, though, these additions make things much more clouded than clear. Stories seem to go on and on and have little or no relevance to the story. The flashbacks provide very little insight to any of the case details, and are distracting. And the final case made by Juror number 1 is just plain silly. I wasn’t expecting a remake of the original. If you’re going to borrow so many elements of a perfectly crafted story, and then change many of the details that make it work, you’re surely destined to fumble a bit. I think 12 fumbled a lot, and lots of strong acting performances and interesting speeches didn’t save it from the terrible holes in the story itself.

What I liked: The intensity of the characters. Adding some background to the stories of the original film. Some really strong performances by some interesting actors.

What I disliked: Stories that were just logically absurd. Nobody really made any sense in this movie. If I didn’t know the original 12 Angry Men story much more in this movie would have been confusing. Many characters drifted in and out and didn’t seem to stay true to themselves.

Rating: 3 of 10

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