Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Movie Review #28: 12 Angry Men

This classic called out to me on Netflix last night. It's over 50 years old, two of my lifetimes ago, but 12 Angry Men hooked me enough to interrupt my Bob's Burgers streak.

Short review: Wow. This is a great movie. It's completely engaging from start to finish. I'd recommend it to anyone, but especially anyone who's ever been in a long group argument.


A jury enters into deliberation to decide the fate of a young man charged with murder. For a case like this, the decision needs to be unanimous. Eleven of the twelve jurors are convinced of the defendant's guilt from the beginning, but one man refuses to agree to a guilty verdict until the jury talks it out.


This movie is a study in group discussion. I'm certain I've been in group discussions like this, and I've observed many of the same dynamics in those situations. They happen fairly often at Fangamer, though without the benefit of a literally locked room with no escape until consensus is reached.

Moreover, I've actually been in a jury for a criminal case before. Nobody died, but the defendant was on trial for attempted 1st degree murder of a police officer as well as several drug charges.

The conversation played out similarly. Many people were immediately convinced of the man's guilt, a few of us were uncertain. In the end, we had the benefit of compromise: the attempted murder charge could be downgraded to assault.

Anyway, the movie grabs you quickly with its diverse range of characters, and although the movie spends over an hour and a half all within the same room the intensity never lets up.

To be honest, given my experience with movies from that era I expected to watch it in sections, a half hour here and there to make up for the pacing, but the pacing turned out to be perfect. I could barely break away for a glass of water.

All in all, a thoroughly riveting and touching film that everyone should watch. It's not just a classic that teaches us about film history; it's a powerful film that's still relevant and entertaining now, half a century later.

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