Sign in using your account with
13: Ensemble Thriller Lacks Consistency
A desperate and naive young man named Vince (Riley) unwittingly assumes another man's identity only to be sucked into an underground world full of violence and money. Unaware of the consequences, Vince is quickly involved in a gambling ring like no other that he unwillingly becomes a huge part of. The only way out alive is to participate in a series of deadly Russian roulette games.
The idea of betting your life on a game where a gun is aimed at the back of your head is quite intense to say the least. But when the whole story of the film rotates around this concept alone, it actually becomes quite tedious. This remake of French film 13 Tzameti (2005) wavers from the intense to the dull quite consistently.
The storytelling develops nicely though, as we are dragged along with Vince as he is wrongfully mistaken for the assumed character, who he only paraded to be for a chance of making a quick buck. As he gets deeper and deeper into the game, he can't back out or quit, as the consequences of revealing himself could be just as deadly.
Though Riley turned in an acclaimed performance as Joy Division’s front-man Ian Curtis in biopic Control (2007), he is still relatively unknown, but as the lead he does a fine job in pulling you into his intense predicament. The all-action Statham is passable as one of the gamblers, but it’s the first time in a while we haven’t seen him knocking heads together, and he has to fall back on his acting ability alone. Rourke and Winstone are both simultaneously charismatic and brutal as always, while 50 Cent’s performance is over the top to say the least.
Georgian filmmaker Géla Babluani actually wrote and directed the original and the fact that he himself directed the American remake should have been a good omen. Unfortunately, Babluani has consciously made several changes to avoid simply reshooting the same film. It’s a no win situation; adapted screenplays are often criticised for not staying true to their source materials, but at the same time, they can be distorted by an unflinching loyalty.
In conclusion, 13 is a passable thriller, which seems to have lost much of the character that made the original film so popular. Hollywood has often sought to recreate European and Asian films in order to recreate their success. Very few succeed and unfortunately 13 doesn’t join that elite selection; it just doesn't come together as the exciting ensemble piece it could have been.
Let’s dive in and get to the point; there is little-to-nothing new or innovative about Mark Neveldine’s young-woman-possessed-by-a-demonic-spirit offering in The Vatican Tapes – a generic and uncreative horror entry that fails to inspire, move or frighten.
The film begins with a brief video scene showing a possessed woman named Angela (Taylor Dudley), before switching back through the plot’s timeline to find the main character preparing to celebrate her birthday with boyfriend, Pete (Amedori). After unexpected visit from her God-fearing father, Roger (Scott), and a minor accident that sends her to the hospital, Angela begins to show some troubling signs of aggression and unusual behavior. We come to learn that this is the beginning of a systematic demonic takeover, which soon catches the attention of Father Lozano (Pena), who subsequently takes the case to the Vatican when he begins to suspect that Angela may have been chosen as a vessel for the Anti-Christ. Are you still with us?
The Vatican Tapes marks the very first horror film for the director of the Crank film series, Mark Neveldine whose seeming inexperience in the genre is evident throughout. Written by Christopher Borrelli and Michael C. Martin, there’s very little to the story – it’s as basic, straightforward and predictable as you can get – and its clumsy execution only goes on to exacerbate. Possessed (ha!) by a level of incoherence, the film and its undeveloped and plain uninteresting characters make it near impossible to invest in the film.
Told in flashbacks and with the shaky found-footage format that just refuses to go away, the plot never really finds its footing and seems rushed, making it awfully difficult to figure out what’s actually going on at times. Similarly, the acting suffers, especially the picture’s biggest name, Michael Pena, who seems uncomfortable in his own skin throughout.
With a reported budget of $13 million, the film has thus far only made $900,000 return and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the production failed to recoup its expenditures. But then what can you say for a film that, in some scenes, looks like it came from a Wayans brothers’ horror spoof in a sub-genre that hasn’t produced a film to top the one that started it all off, The Exorcist?
Like it or not, the Terminator franchise holds a special place in Hollywood history – thanks in part to Arnold Schwarzenegger. The once great franchise is arguably Arnie’s most iconic role and despite being three year away from his 70th birthday, the former Governor of California doesn’t look half-bad in the fifth, but far from final, instalment in the franchise.
Terminator Genisys is the first of what has been described as a new, standalone trilogy, but if the first film is anything to go by, fans will most likely be throwing their hands in despair at what’s to come.
Set initially the year 2029, the film’s main device is time travel and the butterfly effect – concepts that are becoming increasingly difficult to keep fresh and original. While co-creator, James Cameron, has unabashedly put his support behind the Alan Taylor-directed flick –going as far as to say that it has reinvigorated the franchise – Genisys only served to further dilute a series that just can’t keep up with contemporarily conceived sci-fi action.
The story opens with A.I. system, Skynet, all but defeated by the freedom fighters, lead by John Connor (Jason Clarke). In one last attempt to defeat the resistance, a T-800 Terminator is sent back to 1984 to kill John’s mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), who is of course under the protection of the Guardian (Schwarzenegger). What happens from then on is a bit of mystery.
Possibly the biggest problem of the film is that it tries far too hard to maintain elements of the original series and fails to do so well. While staying faithful to the films that have made the Terminator franchise so iconic is commendable, all references and lines of continuity feel forced and unsubtle, as if to say, “hey, look – we haven’t forgot the original!”
Seeing Arnie don the Terminator character once more is, in itself, a novelty – especially after the horrendous CGI used to resurrect him in 2009’s Terminator Salvation. But outside of that, you come away with very little when the end credits start to roll. The two Clarkes starring in the film hot the right notes in their performances, but suffer the convoluted script more than anyone.
While reboots, remakes and distant sequels have generally found success in the last few years – some commercially, some financially, some both – the fact that the film has only recouped half of its budget, which includes a marketing budget of at least $50 million dollars, speaks volumes about how tame and just plain unexciting this endeavour has been.