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13

13: Ensemble Thriller Lacks Consistency

  • 50 CentAlexander Skarsgård...
  • DramaThriller
  • Géla Babluani
reviewed by
Omar Atef
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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.

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13 Tzameti, Leon, Donnie Brasco

360 Tip

Serial gangster and hard-man Ray Liotta was attached to play a role, but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts.

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