Study Guide

12 Monkeys Dr. Goines (Christopher Plummer)

Dr. Goines (Christopher Plummer)

You have to feel a bit sorry for Dr. Goines. After all, he's the father of Jeffery Goines.

Dr. Goines is the virologist who created the virus that will nearly wipe out humanity in 1997. In his defense, he only engineered the deadly, highly contagious disease with no proper cure. He didn't expect to actually use it…a fact that has made many a viewer scream, "Then why did you invent the thing in the first place?"

Despite such cries of logic, no answer is provided in the film, so your guess is as good as ours. Even so, Dr. Goines is aware of the responsibility he bears. When we first meet him, he's speaking at a dinner in his honor. During the speech, he states,

DR. GOINES: But, alas, I am burdened. For with all this excess of public attention and cacophony of praise there comes great responsibility. Now I don't have to tell you all that the dangers of science are a timeworn threat.

And those aren't just idle words. When Dr. Railly calls to warn him that Jeffery plans to steal a virus, Dr. Goines calls the claim preposterous but decides to play it safe and upgrade his lab's security procedures. In short, he's aware of the dangers of his research and does everything he can to contain them. He just didn't realize his right-hand man was an apocalypse fanboy.

In the end, it's a difficult question as to whether or not to assign Dr. Goines moral blame. He knows he's tampering with dangerous forces, yet he works to mitigate the dangers. He trusts others to do what is right, yet his trust is misplaced in Dr. Peters and Jeffery.

Can you blame the gun manufacturer as readily as you blame the shooter? That's the question we'd have to answer when considering Dr. Goines' character in 12 Monkeys, and that's a question viewers will have to answer for themselves.

So…yeah. Good luck with that one.

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