12 Made in: Russia Language: Russian Director: Nikita Mikhalkov Starring: Sergei Makovetsky, Nikita Mikhalkov, Sergey Garmash, Valentin Gaft, Aleksei Petrenko, Yuriy Stoyanov, Sergei Gazarov, Mikhail Efremov, Aleksey Gorbunov, Sergei Artsybashev, Viktor Verzhbitskiy, Roman Madyanov, Apti Magamaev, Aleksandr Adabashyan Year: 2007
Synopsis: Director/actor Nikita Mikhalkov remakes the Sidney Lumet classic, Twelve Angry Men, in this emotionally intense courtroom drama. This time, the setting is modern day Russia where a Chechen teenager (Apti Magamaev) is arrested for the murder of his stepfather, an army officer. After the trial, the jurors, each from a different segment of society, convene to determine the boy's fate.
At first, it appears to be an open-and-shut case. 11 of the 12 jurors vote to convict. But one dissents.
As the lone juror battles to change the minds of the others, the deliberation turns into an exhausting, soul-searching endeavor that uncovers the shocking truth behind the case.
The Good: 12 definitely does justice to Lumet's original, but Mikhalkov's efforts go beyond a simple remake. If you've seen the original Twelve Angry Men, you'll pretty much know how this version will play out. But there's some solid drama here, as well as some top notch acting.
Each of the characters is carefully constructed, and has his moment to shine. Every juror has a detailed monologue, and is revealed to have a complex backstory which plays a role in each of their decisions to vote either "guilty" or "not guilty." Very often their stories are emotional, thought-provoking, and in most cases, genuinely moving.
This is certainly a film with a worthwhile message about the unconscious influence of our personal prejudices, as well as the dangers of making snap judgments about people and situations.
Although some of the film is told in flashback, Nikita Mikhalkov definitely deserves credit for holding the viewers' attention as most of the story takes place in one location.
The Bad: At times, the story gets a little too melodramatic and I was scared that the whole thing might become eye-rolling schlock. Also, there are moments during the monologues when the characters come dangerously close to overacting.
There are times when subtlety should have taken the place of emotional heavy-handedness, and with Mikhalkov as both actor and director, the project came across as somewhat of a vanity piece.
Who would like this movie: 12 is for you if you like foreign films (Russian films in particular), and intense courtroom dramas. Despite its flaws and occasional pretentiousness, it's a highly commendable homage to Sidney Lumet's classic.