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'13' DVD Review

About.com Rating 1.5 Star Rating

By

13
© Anchor Bay

The Bottom Line

A hamfisted remake, despite a great cast.

Pros

  • Good cast

Cons

  • Bad acting
  • Stilted dialogue
  • Choppy editing
  • Lacking in suspense

Description

  • Starring Jason Statham, Sam Riley, Ray Winstone, Mickey Rourke, 50 Cent, Alexander Skarsgard, David Zayas, Ben Gazzara, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Michael Shannon, Gaby Hoffmann
  • Directed by Géla Babluani
  • Rated R
  • DVD Release Date: November 8, 2011

Guide Review - '13' DVD Review

Vince (Sam Riley) is a young electrician who lives with his parents and sister (Gaby Hoffmann) in the small town of Talbot, Ohio, but when his father becomes ill, the family is forced to put their house on the market to pay for his medical bills. While working onsite, Vince overhears his client, Mr. Harrison, talk about a big secret job that will pay him a lot of money. When the man overdoses and dies, Vince takes the opportunity to intercept a mysterious package addressed to him and follows a series of directions that take him to New York.

A man named Jack (Alexander Skarsgard) escorts Vince to the final destination, an underground gathering of wealthy individuals betting big bucks on a life-or-death game in which Vince is now unwittingly a participant. He takes Harrison's #13 spot as one of a group of men risking their lives for a chance at wealth -- including #17 (Mickey Rourke), a prisoner forced to participate, and #6 (Ray Winstone), an unbalanced hospital patient whose brother Jasper (Jason Statham) has more riding on the game's outcome than just his brother's life.

I've always found it fascinating how a director can take someone we know is a good actor and get him to deliver a performance well below his capability. In the case of 13, director Géla Babluani does this several times over, as the ostensibly impressive cast consistently either overacts (Michael Shannon yells every line) and underacts (50 Cent mumbles like he has facial paralysis).

Even more inexplicable is the fact that 13 is a remake of the excellent 2005 French/Georgian thriller 13 Tzameti, also written and directed by Babluani. I can only imagine that something was lost in the translation from French to English, because not only is the acting awful, but the dialogue is stiff and overly simplistic. The remake no doubt aspired to something higher than what essentially amounts to a direct-to-video release (technically, there was a limited theatrical run starting October 28), and it feels like along the way, the powers that be realized what a stinker they had and subsequently hacked it up. As a result, the editing is choppy, with sudden starts and stops that make it seem like we're jumping into scenes midway through.

Perhaps because the execution is so bad (even the music is occasionally distracting), what seemed plausible in the original film here feels far-fetched. (It doesn't help that Babluani adds a cliché-ridden expanded backstory for Rourke's #17 that goes nowhere.) 13's bigger budget adds a slicker look, but at the expense of the black-and-white Tzameti's indie grittiness. If you haven't seen the first film, I suppose there could be some suspense in discovering the nature of the competition, but generally the thrills are undermined by tepid direction, stilted writing and comically overblown performances. Only the likable cast, despite its work here, make for an intriguing watch.

The DVD

No special features.

Movie: D+
DVD: F

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the distributor. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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