Vladimir Moiseyenko

Vladimir Moiseyenko

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12 Review


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A peculiar, slathering beast comes lumbering out of writer Reginald Rose's slow-burning 12 Angry Men in Nikita Mikhalkov's epic 12, an inverted and wildly uneven Russian production that recasts the famous, tight legal drama as a litmus test of the cultural mindsets currently at play in Mother Russia. Fitted with a flared lighting scheme that wouldn't be out of place in the latest Saw installment, this intriguing, prolonged version of Sidney Lumet's debut film is nothing if not deeply Russian.

Perhaps the one thing that most separates Mikhalkov's film from its American counterparts is a difference in law rather than dramatic choice. As a young Chechen man (Apti Magamayev) paces in his cell, 12 men sit around a long table in a high school gymnasium deciding whether or not the youth will spend the rest of his natural life in prison. Accused of murdering his stepfather, the young man would face a far more fatalistic sentence if he were to be tried stateside. As in Rose's original, the group is slowly picked apart by a singular vote of not guilty. But where the original was wound tightly around the fate of the accused, Mikhalkov's concept nearly disregards the young man in question and accentuates instead the empty space of the large gymnasium.

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