Skip to main content

These are the guys that have been killing you.

12:01
(1993)

(SPOILERS) 12:01, a Fox Network TV movie, was first shown the same year as Groundhog Day, that much feted classic of the one-day-repeated micro-genre that also includes the recent Edge of Tomorrow/Live. Die. Repeat., The X-FilesMonday and Source Code. It had previously been made as a short three years earlier, with Kurtwood Smith.  Indeed, Richard Lupoff, Jonathan Heap and Philip Morton, the writers, sued the Groundhog Day people, claiming plagiarism. 12:01 is a serviceable little movie, engagingly told, but it’s easy to see why it hasn’t entered into the annals like its more illustrious companions.


Indeed, even The X-FilesMonday (from the recharged sixth season), is superior, telling its story effectively and punchily in half the time. Like Edge of Tomorrow and Source Code, 12:01 attempts an explanation behind its conceit, rather than it all just being magic to cause a shift in its wayward protagonist’s outlook. This forms the underpinning of events and the murder narrative, but like Groundhog Day it’s driven by a love story.


Barry (Jonathan Silverman, a more affable Judd Nelson) is a bored and put-upon personnel department employee of a company conducting experiments into particle physics. He moons from afar over scientist Lisa (Helen Slater) and ritually gets drunk with buddy and practical joker Howard (Jeremy Piven, basically setting out the store for his entire career). Lisa is shot dead, and that night Barry suffers an electric shock from a lightning strike at the same time (unbeknownst to anyone else, since the device is supposed to have been shut down) that a faster than light particle experiment is being conducted.


Barry awakes the next morning to find himself reliving his previous day. As you can probably guess, his main endeavours, once he gets the measure of his predicament, is to woo/save the life of Lisa, which inevitably leads to working out just who is responsible for her (attempted) murder and for continuing the (banned) experiment. Along the way there are a series of quirky little signatures (the collapsing office chair is effectively the same as Ned Ryerson and the puddle in Groundhog Day) and amusement resulting from learnt behaviours and observations of others (in particular, Barry’s reactions to his overbearing boss Robin Bartlett have something of Office Space’s relishable contempt for to all things oppressively officious).


Silverman’s solid, Slater’s incredibly likeable, Piven’s Piven, and Martin Landau as head of the project Dr Moxley is as reliable as you’d expect. There’s also a decent Danny Trejo cameo.


12:01 isn’t quite able to grasp the same giddy mettle as some of its stable mates, however. Jack Sholder (Freddy’s Revenge, cult classic The Hidden) does an effective and pacey job, but the final act reduces to efficient-but-bland straight thriller antics. There’s also only one instance where the go-for-it side of repetition is fully embraced for humorous effect; Barry awakes, galvanised, heads out to work, only to be hit head on by a car, killed, and awakes again; that kind of shorthand gag could have been used to knock the movie out of the park (as both Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow exploited). As it is, Barry is only caught in his loop for about four days, by the looks of things.


The moral of the piece is much more effective, if still glib, than the meal The Age of Adaline makes, only coming from a different angle; “That’s why life is so precious. Because time passes”. Worth a look then, if a lesser entry in the repeated day cycle, and 12:01 can currently be seen on YouTube. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

Django Unchained (2012)
(MINOR SPOILERS) Since the painful misstep of Grindhouse/Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino has regained the higher ground like never before. Pulp Fiction, his previous commercial and critical peak, has been at very least equalled by the back-to-back hits of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Having been underwhelmed by his post Pulp Fiction efforts (albeit, I admired his technical advances as a director in Kill Bill), I was pleasantly surprised by Inglourious Basterds. It was no work of genius (so not Pulp Fiction) by any means, but there was a gleeful irreverence in its treatment of history and even to the nominal heroic status of its titular protagonists. Tonally, it was a good fit for the director’s “cool” aesthetic. As a purveyor of postmodern pastiche, where the surface level is the subtext, in some ways he was operating at his zenith. Django Unchained is a retreat from that position, the director caught in the tug between his all-important aesthetic pr…

Whoever comes, I'll kill them. I'll kill them all.

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
(SPOILERS) There’s no guessing he’s back. John Wick’s return is most definite and demonstrable, in a sequel that does what sequels ought in all the right ways, upping the ante while never losing sight of the ingredients that made the original so formidable. John Wick: Chapter 2 finds the minimalist, stripped-back vehicle and character of the first instalment furnished with an elaborate colour palette and even more idiosyncrasies around the fringes, rather like Mad Max in that sense, and director Chad Stahleski (this time without the collaboration of David Leitch, but to no discernible deficit) ensures the action is filled to overflowing, but with an even stronger narrative drive that makes the most of changes of gear, scenery and motivation.

The result is a giddily hilarious, edge-of-the-seat thrill ride (don’t believe The New York Times review: it is not “altogether more solemn” I can only guess Jeannette Catsoulis didn’t revisit the original in the interven…

No time to dilly-dally, Mr Wick.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)
(SPOILERS) At one point during John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, our eponymous hero announces he needs “Guns, lots of guns” in a knowing nod to Keanu Reeves’ other non-Bill & Ted franchise. It’s a cute moment, but it also points to the manner in which the picture, enormous fun as it undoubtedly is, is a slight step down for a franchise previously determined to outdo itself, giving way instead to something more self-conscious, less urgent and slightly fractured.

She worshipped that pig. And now she's become him.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018)
(SPOILERS) Choosing to make The Girl in the Spider’s Web following the failure of the David Fincher film – well, not a failure per se, but like Blade Runner 2049, it simply cost far too much to justify its inevitably limited returns – was a very bizarre decision on MGM’s part. A decision to reboot, with a different cast, having no frame of reference for the rest of the trilogy unless you checked out the Swedish movies (or read the books, but who does that?); someone actually thought this would possibly do well? Evidently the same execs churning out desperately flailing remakes based on their back catalogue of IPs (Ben-Hur, The Magnificent Seven, Death Wish, Tomb Raider); occasionally there’s creative flair amid the dross (Creed, A Star is Born), but otherwise, it’s the most transparently creatively bankrupt studio there is.

Isn’t Johnnie simply too fantastic for words?

Suspicion (1941)
(SPOILERS) Suspicion found Alfred Hitchcock basking in the warm glow of Rebecca’s Best Picture Oscar victory the previous year (for which he received his first of five Best Director nominations, famously winning none of them). Not only that, another of his films, Foreign Correspondent, had jostled with Rebecca for attention. Suspicion was duly nominated itself, something that seems less unlikely now we’ve returned to as many as ten award nominees annually (numbers wouldn’t be reduced to five until 1945). And still more plausible, in and of itself, than his later and final Best Picture nod, Spellbound. Suspicion has a number of claims to eminent status, not least the casting of Cary Grant, if not quite against type, then playing on his charm as a duplicitous quality, but it ultimately falls at the hurdle of studio-mandated compromise.

I mean, I think anybody who looked at Fred, looked at somebody that they couldn't compare with anybody else.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018) 
(SPOILERS) I did, of course, know who Fred Rogers was, despite being British. Or rather, I knew his sublimely docile greeting song. How? The ‘Burbs, naturally. I was surprised, given the seeming unanimous praise it was receiving (and the boffo doco box office) that Won’t You Be My Neighbor? didn’t garner a Best Documentary Oscar nod, but now I think I can understand why. It’s as immensely likeable as Mr Rogers himself, yet it doesn’t feel very substantial.

I think, I ruminate, I plan.

The Avengers 6.5: Get-A-Way
Another very SF story, and another that recalls earlier stories, in this case 5.5: The See-Through Man, in which Steed states baldly “I don’t believe in invisible men”. He was right in that case, but he’d have to eat his bowler here. Or half of it, anyway. The intrigue of Get-A-Way derives from the question of how it is that Eastern Bloc spies have escaped incarceration, since it isn’t immediately announced that a “magic potion” is responsible. And if that reveal isn’t terribly convincing, Peter Bowles makes the most of his latest guest spot as Steed’s self-appointed nemesis Ezdorf.

Our very strength incites challenge. Challenge incites conflict. And conflict... breeds catastrophe.

The MCU Ranked Worst to Best

She can't act, she can't sing, she can't dance. A triple threat.