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.
James Watkins’ 2012’s The Woman in Black – led by one Daniel Radcliffe – was named one of the best British horror films of the past twenty years, so it comes as no surprise that a sequel, The Woman in Black 2 – a dreary follow-up which unfortunately fails to re-capture the mood and tone of the original – was quickly set to follow.
Directed by Tom Harper, The Woman in Black 2 is set forty-years after the events of its predecessor and plays out against the backdrop of WWII, as a number of orphaned children are evacuated to the countryside for safety.
Schoolteachers, Eve Parkins (Fox) and Jean Hogg (McCrory), are put in charge of helping to evacuate eight orphans out of the city and are tasked to take them to the abandoned Eel Marsh House, where they’re expected to set up camp until things back in the city settle down. Amongst the group of foundlings, is Edward (Pendergast); a young and a seemingly troubled boy who, after witnessing the death of his parents, has become temporarily mute and only communicates through notes and drawings.
It doesn’t take long before Eve – someone who has taken a special liking to Edward – begins noticing that something is off and that the young boy is being troubled by an evil presence (a.k.a The Woman in Black).
Like so many horror sequels, The Woman in Black 2 is nothing but a futile and a poorly constructed cash-grab. While the misty aesthetics manage to add a bit of the creepiness to the overall proceedings, the story – which has already been assessed and probed from all angles in the original – doesn’t really know where to go, let alone sustain the interest of the audience who will almost certainly see the jump-scares coming from a mile away.
Taking every single horror cliché and failing to provide and infuse any real depth or meaning to the character’s individual arcs, the performance, as a result, were equally ineffective. The drama is non-existent and the frights are cheap and relatively short-lived, ultimately, branding the film completely redundant.
Sinking further and deeper into its very own rabbit-hole of absurdity, Taken 3 – the third and hopefully last chapter in Luc Besson’s generally well-liked but unmistakably flawed Taken trilogy – has finally outstayed its welcome. Abandoning logic and pretty much everything that connects its concluding statement to any of its predecessors, Taken 3 disappoints and not even Bryan Mills – and his special set of skills – can save it from its demise.
Directed by Olivier Megaton, Taken 3 takes us to the sunny streets of Los Angeles where ex-government operative, Bryan Mills (Neeson), is adapting to his relatively quiet and uneventful single life. Realising that his daughter Kim (Grace) is no longer the little girl he wants her to be, Bryan continues to look for ways to become a part of her life, while his ex-wife, Lenore (Janssen) – who is experiencing marital problems with her husband, Stuart (Scott) – is trying to become a part of his once more.
It doesn’t take long before Bryan is swung into action when Lenore is found murdered in his very own apartment and, just like Harrison Ford in the Fugitive, Bryan is the suspect. Escaping from the hands of the law, our hero – with the help of some old friends – sets off to carry out his own investigation, in the hopes of finding the person responsible before he’s caught by Agent Dotzler (Whittaker).
Apart from the title and the central characters, Taken 3 shares very little common thread or connective tissue with any of its previous instalments. The Euro-action grit introduced in the first movie is long gone and tension has been reduced to a simmer; a handful of dubious Eastern European, unforgiving plot holes and the over-zealous editing leave the film hollow of what made the previous films stand above the usual action spiel.
Neeson, who allegedly did all his own fight sequences, is still his capable and charming self, however, the improbability of the situations he finds himself in – not to mention the laws of gravity he dares test – fall into typical Hollywood ridiculousness. The ever dependable Whittaker serves to be a wonderful addition to the film, though his talents, along with the story’s initial potential and appeal, are shamelessly underused.