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Released: 2007

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 2 hr 29 min

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Nikita Mikhalkov

Starring: Nikita Mikhalkov, Sergey Makovetsky, Sergey Garmash, Aleksey Petrenko, Valentin Gaft, Yuriy Stoyanov, Mikhail Efremov, Sergey Gazarov, Alexandr Adabash'yan, Viktor Verzhbitsky, Aleksey Gorbunov, Roman Madyanov, Sergey Artsibashev

The jury decides whether a young Chechen boy is guilty in the murder of his stepfather, a Russian military officer.

When the jurors stick to discussing the case, the film works best.

Review by: SteveRhodes

Added: 8 years ago

Okay, I've got to be honest. One of my absolute favorite genres of films are ones about juries. And, while I like most trial films, it is those focusing exclusively on the jury deliberations that I like best of all.

There aren't many pure jury movies. The one that is the most famous and that is one of my all time favorite films is 12 ANGRY MEN. I've seen three versions of this story, and I love them all, with, not surprisingly, the 1957 film version starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, E. G. Marshall and others being the one I love the most.

12, while acknowledging Reginald Rose's screenplay, is a loose adaptation, with only the basic outline of the plot being followed. Set in Russia, this script, by Nikita Mikhalkov, Vladimir Moiseyenko and Aleksandr Novototsky, uses the trial to explore the intense hatred and disdain that the Russians have for the Chechnyans.

The trial, which appears to be a slam-dunk for the prosecution, concerns a Chechen teenager charged with murdering his Russian stepfather. With two eyewitnesses and a unique knife used as the murder weapon, the jury appears to have a case before them that can be decided quickly. And, since many of the jurors have pressing engagements and trains to catch, it's good that they should be able to dispose of the case easily and efficiently.

As you can guess, this rush to judgment grinds to a halt when one of the jurors shocks the others by voting "not guilty." It's not so much that this juror believes that the accused is innocent. It's just that the juror wants the jury to postpone final judgment until it considers the facts a bit first.

The movie is a long march from the 11-1 vote in favor of conviction to the inevitable freeing of the defendant. 12 ANGRY MEN is crisp and riveting in every interchange, but director Nikita Mikhalkov's 12 is filled with long, rambling stories by the jurors about incidents from their lives. When the jurors stick to discussing the case, the film works best.

The director's BURNT BY THE SUN won the 1995 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and 12 was a nominee at last year's Oscars. While this overlong film is well worth seeing, one juror best captured my main criticism of the film. "I beg your pardon," he tells another juror after yet another long story about someone's life. "Why did you tell us all of that?"

Perhaps the most interesting part of 12 is the ending twist that comes from the reasoning behind the last juror's brief hold out in voting for innocence. He comes up with a reason to continue to vote guilty that the others had not ever considered.

12 runs 2:29. The film is in Russian and Chechen with English subtitles. It is rated PG-13 for "violent images, disturbing content, thematic material, brief sexual and drug references, and smoking" and would be acceptable for teenagers.