Take What You Can, and Leave the Rest
A lot of people are probably going to be angry with me about my feelings regarding this film. I personally don’t care. The reason why is that whenever a movie tackles a controversial issue, people have the right to debate and even question what it’s saying or doing. It can’t be treated as merely sacrosanct. People for decades have been treating 12 Angry Men as this completely untouchable masterpiece that can’t be debated or questioned, which is completely unacceptable to me. Not only is it ridiculously manipulative, it’s probably one of the most intellectually bankrupt movies of all times.
To make matters worse, 12 Angry Men is extremely socially irresponsible. In spite of its noble intentions of teaching the public to respect the gravity of jury duty, the movie does the opposite. What 12 Angry Men does is teach you that if a trial was conducted fairly but you don’t like the likeliest outcome (a guilty verdict), undermine the deliberation process. Convince your fellow jurors to second guess everything they also saw and heard in the course of the trial, then confuse them about the very legal concepts needed to deliberate accurately so they wind up voting the way you want them to.
12 Angry Men also teaches people how to subvert logic, truth and reason using semantic tricks, illogical fallacies and manipulative tactics like cherry picking and ad hominem. Because of this, in many ways, this movie not only anticipates but may have laid the foundation of today’s post-truth society, in which facts don’t matter so much as how you can cleverly subvert them.
Again, I know this will anger a lot of people, but I calls ’em as I sees ’em. If people want to celebrate the movie as some kind of cinematic benchmark in terms of acting, casting and directing, that’s fine by me. But as a so-called “thought-provoking” film, it is not only an abject failure but one of the most cynical movies of all time.