12 Mon­keys

A qual­ity re­boot? It’s about time

SFX - - View Screen -

W hen it was an­nounced that Terry Gil­liam’s clas­sic 12 Mon­keys was get­ting made into a tele­vi­sion se­ries, eye­brows were cer­tainly raised in SFX Tow­ers, but with the sheer vol­ume of re­makes hap­pen­ing lately, it was hard to get too ex­cited. Then we saw Terry Mata­las and Travis Fick­ett’s up­date, and it wasn’t what we ex­pected. In fact, it turned out to be the time- travel thriller we didn’t know we wanted…

Shed­ding the surreal land­scapes of Gil­liam’s movie, Mata­las and Fick­ett re­ally only mine the orig­i­nal film for its premise and core char­ac­ters. From there the se­ries im­me­di­ately es­tab­lishes a far more stark, re­al­is­tic sen­si­bil­ity with fu­ture con­vict/ chrononaut as­sas­sin James Cole ( Aaron Stan­ford) – played by Bruce Wil­lis in the film – as a proac­tive war­rior bent on ac­com­plish­ing his mis­sion.

Cole the ac­ci­den­tal men­tal pa­tient is no more, his film per­sona switched out for one with a goal which bet­ter suits a se­ries. While he’s still a bi­o­log­i­cally ma­nip­u­lated sur­vivor of a global pan­demic that wiped out seven bil­lion peo­ple, in this it­er­a­tion he’s got a very clear and un­am­bigu­ous goal: find vi­rol­o­gist Dr Cas­san­dra Railly ( Amanda Schull) so she can lead him to find, and kill, the al­leged cre­ator of the plague, Le­land Frost ( Zeljko Ivanek).

Through the clever use of a watch that il­lus­trates para­doxes elo­quently, and sev­eral well- con­structed time jumps through­out the nar­ra­tive ( vis­it­ing 2043, 2013 and 2015), Cole is able to con­vince Railly that he’s not a ram­bling psy­cho – and that he could ac­tu­ally be hu­man­ity’s saviour if he can sacrifice one life for bil­lions. She buys the tall time tale he’s spin­ning, and to­gether they in­fil­trate an event that puts them face- to- face with their tar­get. Of course, the en­deav­our turns out to be not quite as easy as planned, as Cole dis­cov­ers that some­thing called the Army Of The 12 Mon­keys is ac­tu­ally re­spon­si­ble for the com­ing bio- apoc­a­lypse.

The pi­lot is bril­liantly writ­ten, and re­spects both time- travel noobs and the para­dox stick­lers. By episode’s end you can al­ready imag­ine how com­pli­cated the arc plot could be­come, but the ur­gency of the ac­tion and the fine chem­istry of the cast leaves you want­ing more. In­deed, a twist at the end of the pi­lot en­sures you’ll be back for part two. Tara Ben­nett

tv reviews and opin­ion

Three hu­mans.

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