In 12, writer-director-actor Nikita Mikhalkov reimagines an American classic with a strong post-Soviet sensibility, and they turn out to make one hell of a gripping combination.

In 12, writer-director-actor Nikita Mikhalkov reimagines an American classic with a strong post-Soviet sensibility, and they turn out to make one hell of a gripping combination.

Mikhalkov loosely translates 12 Angry Men, the teleplay about tense jury deliberations made into a 1957 film by Sidney Lumet, for modern-day Moscow.

The majority of the 12 jurors see the case against a Chechen youth accused of killing his stepfather as a quick "guilty" vote, but one refuses from the beginning to take another man's life imprisonment so lightly, despite the bullying of a loud, bigoted fellow juror.

Over a long night, each guilty vote is questioned and sometimes re-questioned by the man who cast it, and each juror reveals a part of his history that has essential relevance to the case at hand. Deliberations remain contained in the new gym of a dilapidated school, but the film breaks away occasionally to present devastating flashes of the accused's war-ravaged childhood.

Once or twice, Mikhalkov lets his jurors travel too far into speculative stretches. But ultimately, in ways I don't want to reveal, he makes surprisingly sharp dramatic use of both his old source and his new setting.