Starring: Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, Lee J. Cobb
Director: Sidney Lumet
Running Time: 96 mins
12 Angry Men is an American film about a seemingly clear-cut murder trial, until one dissenting juror begins to prove that everything may not be as simple as it seems.
Well, this film really lives up to its legacy, and goes further. It’s a perfect display of simplicity in terms of its visuals and scale, and yet intricacy and intelligence in terms of its story, and that combination makes it a hugely interesting and enjoyable film to watch.
Now, the main thing that I have to emphasise about this film is that it’s set in ONE ROOM. For the whole duration. This was initially worrying, because I thought that it would end up becoming dull, claustrophobic and frustrating to watch, however it manages to completely change that.
This film has a brilliant way of making its incredibly small and enclosed setting seem huge and active. Rather than just watching 12 guys sitting down discussing, you see a heap of fascinating and exciting conflicts between the characters that make this film a whole lot bigger than you would think.
Also, the characters in the story are so perfect for its simple nature. With 12 different men, you’re able to pull in characters and personalities from all different walks of life, and that means that you get the opportunity for sparks to fly between each and every person, making the whole thing a great deal more exciting.
As well as making the story more exciting, the characters give an extra layer to what seems like a relatively simple, 90 minute argument. Some of the men begin to take personal stances on the matter of the murder trial, and that begins to reveal a fascinating talk about how democracy works, and the fact that people can take advantage of this system, which I found to be intriguing.
On the surface, though, the story, although simple, was absolutely thrilling. It starts off immediately, with the one juror voting against the majority causing sparks within seconds, and then everything continues to escalate as the plot thickens, more information is revealed, and various people change sides, heightening tensions in the room.
By the end, although it seems as if everything seems to be swinging one way, there is a major twist during the climax that completely changes your outlook on everything that’s come before, confirming its total unpredictability and overall excitement, and that’s why it gets an 8.7.