For a movie that takes place enitrely in one room, "12 Angry Men" holds your attention from the opwning frame to the final shot with the intensity of a high-octane thriller. The plot, based off of Reginald Rose's award-winning play, is about the conflict that goes on in the jury room of a murder case. One of the main strong points is that the jurors remain nameless, known only by their numbers. This allows the audiance to view them as simply human beings. It also keeps secret each mans prejudices and hates, which suprise the viewer when they are revealed.
At first, the case seems open and shut in the eyes of most of the jury. A teenage boy, only eighteen years old, is accused of fatally stabbing and killing his father in a heated argument. The prosocution has the knife found in the father, two witnesses who say they saw the boy do it, and a flimsy-sounding alibi that the boy gave. It's simple: the boy did it, let him fry.
Or is it? One juror, Number Eight (Jack Lemmon), does not think so. He doesn't think the boy is innocent, but he doesn't feel convinced of his guilt either. And, as he continously tells his comrades throughout the movie, if there is the shadow of a doubt, then a vote of guilty is not warrented.
He meets oppisition at the begining, at first by the eleven jurors who think guilty, and, as evidence is disproved and questions are raised, eventually the strongest from jurours Three (a Golden Globe winning George C. Scott), Four (Armin Mueller-Stahl), and Ten (Mykelti Williamson). As the day wears on and patience begins to wear thin, the twelve men must decide just how far they will go for the truth.
The direction in the movie gives the film a clustraphobic feel, with many roaming Stedi-cam shots, over-lapping dialouge, and tight close-ups. The enemble cast, headed by the late greats George C. Scott and Jack Lemmon, delivers driving performances from all members, which also includes Tony Danza, Ossie Davis, and James Gandolfini. While the Henry Fonda version will always be considered the definitive version, 12 Angry Men is a worthy and worth-while film.
Rated PG-13 for harsh language.
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