Request from Daniel Lees

13 is an Englishized version of a French film directed by the guy who made the original French film, and updating it slightly, such as adding more background information on some of the characters.  That’s kind of neat.  It is another film - in the trend I am finding myself reviewing – with a protagonist who is a relatively bad actor, this time played Sam Riley, who I referred while I was watching it as LeBerto DiPattrio. 

The basic premise is a down on their luck family needing money, and our protagonist finding a way into a gambling ring based around a basically Russian roulette tournament.  And from there, it is just a high-stakes tension film.

It is hard to talk about this movie because I cannot properly convey how well they were able to mount the tension.  I love intense films, especially ones with strong character stories going along through them.  The Hurt Locker did it brilliantly (and I still believe Jeremy Renner deserved the Best Actor Oscar that year instead of the ridiculous role Jeff Bridges played in Crazy Heart, blech).  The Mist never let up with its mood and tension.  Those are films I love.  And 13 just is not quite good enough.

It does a lot of things right, and really brings up the tension.  The music is fantastic, and the foley guy worked crazy hard on little things that most audience members would never notice that really enhanced the viewing.  But the storytelling is fractured to see all the other people in the tournament, except you only meet the plot important ones.  It also starts with the climax then backtracks to how we get there, which is a writing tactic I find appallingly stupid and lazy.  I’m looking at you Supernatural.

You still love me, right?

The ending itself is not the end of the tournament, but a long denoument, which is well done and keeps the tension up as we feel for our protagonist, and while the element of fiction at the end left me satisfied as a conclusion, I can see it turning off a lot of people.

In the end, 13 is a good movie that wants to be great, and I admire it, but just do not believe it is actually there.  It is lacking in very minor things across the board that all just don’t quite add up to an A-film for me.  I would suggest it to anyone interested, though, as it is a good sit.

Grade: B

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