12 Angry Men Review

12 Angry Men is certainly a classic film. It’s one that just about everyone’s heard of and it’s very well known for its quality writing and interesting plot. It holds up very well on a rewatch and is just as engaging as it ever was. The movie manages to stay engaging even with the characters never leaving the main room for the majority of the film. This is definitely how you want to do a jury film and it’s hard to picture any film doing it better.

The case that the 12 Jurors have to rule on involves an alleged murder. Supposedly this kid on trial murdered his father before being captured by the police. The evidence is mainly based around testimony from a lady who saw the murder from a train, and an old man who stepped out of his apartment in time to see the kid run off. When the jurors go into the room to deliberate, 11 of them immediately believe the kid is guilty. They just don’t see how you can go against two direct witness testimonies like that but one juror is not convinced and still has some doubts. Can the 11 convince him to give out a verdict of guilty or can he get them over to his side?

After all, the only way you can rule guilty is if you believe that there is no room for doubt here and that this had to have been what happened. Also, a jury must be unanimous in its decision so if there is one person who disagrees then you have to keep debating until that is no longer the case. After a period of time if no agreement can be made then it is considered a hung jury and a new group will end up being selected.

The movie does a good job of still leaving the case up to your interpretation as the characters disclose their facts. It’s fair to say that one side will appear to be more likely than the other by the end or at least that there has been some established room for doubt. If you still believe that the accused is guilty then that’s fair as well, the film doesn’t really try to force you into saying that one side is flat out wrong or not.

If you’re voting for the side that says the accused is innocent, you do have a lot of things working in your favor. After the characters broke down the testimony from the old man who says he made it to the door in time, it does seem like it would have been difficult to make it to the front door in time. The timeline doesn’t add up without something being different as reported. Likewise the angle of the stab wound was different from how you would expect someone to use it and the train was moving very quickly.

On the side that says he’s guilty, you’ve got the fact that the knife was on the scene of the crime. It seems to be a rare knife although the main character was able to get one which puts that into question. You do have the direct alibi’s of the two witnesses and while the side that says he is innocent would say that they are lying, it’s just as possible that they aren’t and their time limits were off by a few seconds.

So whichever side you pick, there’s some good arguments to be made. The film isn’t really about seeing which side is right though so you won’t find that out by the end. It’s all left rather open which is also fair since in most cases as the jury you’ll never truly know if the person was guilty or not. You just make the ruling as best you can.

As mentioned, the writing is definitely great here. The time really passes by even though it’s 100% dialogue based. The characters may not have names but they all have core personalities. One of the best members was likely the chairman who did his best to make sure that everyone was taking this seriously and working in an orderly fashion. It’s not easy trying to take charge but someone had to do it.

You had the advertiser who was having a good time. He got distracted very easily compared to the others but he didn’t seem malicious or anything. The guy just seemed to always think of new ideas. There’s the main character who really wanted to give the case the importance it deserved. When the others were ready to leave in 5 minutes he held firm. You have to give him a lot of credit for sticking his ground even when he was outnumbered 11 to 1. It’s not an easy thing to have to face the crowd like that, especially with some of them being really tough about the whole thing.

One of them just wanted to go and see his Baseball game after all so he wanted a quick guilty verdict so he could leave. Then you have the one who is really against kids due to some personal issues. These two make this an even tougher situation since they are hardly going to be listening to reason. The film was smart not to make them the only ones on the guilty side though or you’d run the risk of making one side so antagonistic that it doesn’t appear to be a fair fight.

The main reasonable member in that camp was the guy with glasses who likes to look at everything logically. He feels it’s less of an assumption to take the testimonies and evidence at face value as opposed to believing they were all lying and/or incorrect. The best back and forth exchanges are often the debates with him as each side has to carefully take in each item and discuss it thoroughly. That’s exactly how these kind of discussions should go down.

Overall, 12 Angry Men really ends up keeping your attention at all times. It’s really a simple plot when you think about it and this underscores that any plot can make for a great movie if the execution is done well enough. The crew in charge of the movie held nothing back and so this ended up being quite the hit. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to check out a good movie. No matter what genre you may like, this one is just good cinema and can appeal to anyone. I’d be up for more jury based films. It may be tough to beat this one but an attempt should at least be made as there is a lot you can do with this concept.

Overall 8/10

The Young Savages Review

The Young Savages is a film involving gang violence and ultimately trying to decide how this should be handled. When the culprits are minors it can muddy the waters. Do they know what they were doing and should be given the full punishment or should they be let off easy? It’s always a big debate even in modern settings as these kinds of things tend to keep on going. The film certainly doesn’t cop out as it has Hank pick a side, but did he pick the right one?

The movie starts with 3 gang members walking up to a blind kid who was playing his harmonica and stabbing him to death. They run out of there but the cops quickly pick them up. Hank is put in charge as the main prosecutor and aims to go for the death penalty on these guys. He has to make sure he has an airtight case though because two of them are minors and they allege that the blind kid had a knife so they were acting in defense. He’ll have to get to the bottom of this but there are parties on both sides putting pressure on him.

Hank’s boss wants a conviction here to help him when running for mayor. He feels that it will look really good. You have gangs from Irish and Puerto Rican groups who of course both want him to one way or the other. They even send people to his home to intimidate his wife as well as to beat him up. Both sides continue to grow more and more aggressive with their tactics and at the end of the day Hank has to decide what to do.

There are a number of twists here both involving the victim as well as the 3 murderers. This all leads up to the big court case that the film ends off with. I suppose I won’t say which side Hank ultimately helps out but here are the crucial facts. The victim was actually a high ranking member of the opposing gang. He hadn’t tried attacking or anything at this point but this was more about revenge than anything else. For the 3 murderers, one of them was pretty much evil from the jump. Another one isn’t all that intelligent and is easily manipulated by the other one. Then the third is someone who doesn’t like being in a gang and abusing people like this but does it to stay cool with the group. In the end he didn’t actually stab the kid but he didn’t try to stop it either so he was an accessory at bare minimum.

All 3 of these kids are old enough where they are completely responsible for what they are doing. You can give a pass to the third kid for not being mentally sane enough to be responsible. Sending him for treatment and rehabilitation is fine. The other two are certainly guilty though. One of them wanting to fit in with the crowd to this extent but not wanting to do it is immaterial. If you are going along with a gang and doing all of this then you absolutely have to be held accountable for that.

There should be major jail time for that. It also doesn’t matter that the victim was a gang member because then you’re just being a complete vigilante at that point. You can’t allow people to just go around murdering others like that whether the revenge is believed to be justified or not. I don’t believe there should be a true defense for either of those two.

The court scene to close things off is naturally pretty fun. The characters may not be going all out in this case so it turns into a pretty unique proceeding but I always like courtroom environments. They just make for very engaging scenes and set things off for a solid climax. In general the writing here was pretty solid. There are a whole lot of characters and motivations to go through but the movie never drags on with this. At most the ending may just be annoying depending on whose side you’re on. A big takeaway here is definitely that the area was super dangerous at this point in time. The police basically have to look the other way with the gangs because they are so extensive and have a lot of power.

Hank is a solid main character. You have to give him a lot of credit for always trying his best to find out the answers. Both sides accuse him a lot of just being someone who wants to see his version of the story but you don’t get that impression. Hank is doing his best to check every avenue out but it doesn’t help that the whole town is playing hardball. Nobody ever gives him a straight answer and then you have both gangs trying intimidation tactics on him. If anything it’s impressive that Hank made it so far particularly since he had 0 support. He did well in the Subway fight as well.

Meanwhile his wife Karin was doing her best to ridicule him and embarrass them at public parties. It was definitely not a great look. It took a while for her to start acting reasonably. For most of the film she’s just a little too exaggerated. It’s reasonable to take the other position that no matter what since the kids are minor they shouldn’t be seriously punished for murdering people or doing any kind of crime but you need to be prepared to have some real conversations about it rather than just making fun the whole time.

Overall, The Young Savages is a solid film. I’d say whether or not you agree with Hank’s decision and actions at the end of the film, he did do a good job of gathering a lot of intel. He also took a lot of serious risks such as visiting the turf of both gangs without any true backup. He came close to dying a few times as well. He says he grew up in the neighborhood and you believe it since the guy is plenty tough. In the background of the film you also get the impression that none of the characters here have had an easy time of things. They’ve been through a lot and will continue to do so while the gangs control the area instead of the police.

Overall 6/10