Prime Video movie of the day: 12 Angry Men is a claustrophobic courtroom drama that deserves its perfect Rotten Tomatoes score

A screenshot take from Sidney Lumet's 1957 legal drama 12 Angry Men, which shows men voting around a table
12 Angry Men is a gripping legal drama that's stood the test of time. (Image credit: MGM)
Movie of the day

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Widely regarded as director Sidney Lumet's best movie, 12 Angry Men (out now on Prime Video) is one of the best courtroom dramas ever to grace the silver screen. Released way back in 1957, age hasn't dimmed its considerable power, either, as this powerhouse movie remains a masterpiece to this day.

For anyone who hasn't seen or heard of it: 12 Angry Men takes place in a single location – a small courtroom, to be more precise – where as 12-strong, male-only jury must decide whether the teenager at the center of this trial is innocent or guilty. The catch? 11 jurors think he's committed the crime in question, with just one of the group – Juror 8, who's simply known as Davis and is played by Henry Fonda – thinks he's innocent. The movie follows Davis' attempts to persuade his fellow jurors that the murder accused isn't guilty of said offence. Without spoiling anything further about its plot, 12 Angry Men is a masterclass in acting and writing, and needs to be watched on one of the world's best streaming services ASAP.

Why 12 Angry Men deserves its 100% rating

Not convinced? Allow the following reviews to explain why 12 Angry Men is easily one of the greatest movies that you can stream on Amazon's main streaming platform.

Let's start with Empire magazine, whose reviewer opined: "On paper, this courtroom drama had little to get excited about – a one room setting, a dozen old-timers spouting off, a first-time director, a non-event. But, on film, 12 Angry Men is transformed into a superlative brew of acting prowess and dynamite direction". Given that it's a feature with "no action, no effects, [and] no wizzy camerawork, [and one with] just powerful dialogue, finely etched characters, and a beautifully worked plot", you start to realize why it's more than a relic of its time.

Sure, it's quite a stage play-esque movie – it was originally written as such a production. Even so, Slant magazine suggested that this actually made the flick better, adding: "the film takes a confined, almost completely banal real-world location and makes it completely dynamic, using incredibly nimble camera movements to establish character motivation and theme." Famous critics Roger Ebert agreed, explaining that "this is a film where tension comes from personality conflict, dialogue and body language, not action." 

My opinion? It's must-see and certainly deserves a spot on our best Prime Video movies list. But, hey don't take my word for it – with its perfect 100% critical and near-perfect 97% audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, the jury has made its decision, and I rest my case.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.

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