An intense thriller about the underground ‘sport’ of Russian roulette. It is fiercely organized and ferociously secret. It attracts depraved gamblers and desperate men. And tonight, one naive young player will mistakenly become a numbered participant in a deadly world of power, violence and chance where the ultimate bets are decided by a squeeze of the trigger. The stakes are high, but the payout is more than he can resist.
In 13, Vincent is a young Electrician, whose family has fell on some hard times recently with his father's illness. Having no money to pay for the hospital bills, Vincent's mom has had to put up the deed on their house to finance a operation for her husband. Eventually the family receives word that the operation has failed, and that he will need an additional surgery. Having no money, Vince worries as to how he will get it, but is when he is working a job that an opportunity arises. When working on the electricity for a man, he overhears the drug dealer speak of a way to ear big money fast. The man receives a mysterious envelope in the mail that is apparently connected to this opportunity. By chance and a bizarre turn of events, Vince's client accidentally overdoses, which gives Vince the chance to swipe the envelope. The letter instructs him to pick up another letter at the post office. This would send him to New York, and includes a cellphone, a key, and the amount of $500 for a hotel room. Once in New York, he finds his assigned PO box, and inside, only a piece of cork board with the number "13' engraved on it and further instructions. He is later picked up by a mysterious man, who takes him to a shack out in the Forrest where a group of people are waiting to get him prepared. I short time later, Vincent finds himself shipped off to a secret location, where he finds that there are others like him, who are looking to score big, but at first, Vince has no idea how. As it turns out it all has to do with an underground operation of Russian Roulette, in which the rich and greedy come to bet on the lives of others, and with the sole survivor winning a large sum of cash for their troubles. Initially, those in charge of the games are upset that Vince has stolen the identity of a previous player, fearing that he has told others about the secret proceedings, however it isn't long before they thrust him into the games anyway. The games which see the players lined up in a circle, which each pointing a gun at the head of the player in front of them, starts off simple, with one bullet in the chamber. Initially Vince is very reluctant to participate, but is soon pressed to comply. As various players begin to fall to the bullet, the stakes are raised with each additional game, adding another bullet into the mix. Against his will, Vince excels in the competition, but as he would soon find out, this is one corrupted game that might never end - even long after it's over.
13 is a remake of the French film, 13 TZEMETI, which was directed by the same Director, Géla Babluani. Prior to seeing 13, I had not heard of either film, in fact, I almost did not request this film for review. When I was sent the press release for 13 some time ago, I was then filled to the brim with yet to be completed reviews, and plus I took one look at its cast, and immediately assumed that it was a film destined for failure, seeing that the film features quite a few notable names. In my opinion, usually when a film is packed with talent, it is a film's attempt to compensate for other things that it might be lacking. So with that in mind, I wasn't quick to request it, because lets face it, these days, I could probably benefit from cutting down on how many reviews that I happen to take in. But let me just say, now that I have actually seen 13 for myself, I am so glad that I did not pass this one up!
It just so happens that Géla Babluani's "Americanized" 13, is a very intriguing piece. Vincent is the film's main character, and the film does an impressive job, of kind of putting a view in his shoes(or boots, if you will). In the film, desperate times lead to Vince delving into a dark and unknown underground, and as viewers it's like we take the mysterious journey with him. The idea of an illegal underground Russian Roulette gambling ring is a little unusual, but it is for that reason, that it is so interesting. Whether it may be far fetched or not, Babluani, does a fine job capturing the subject. It is presented here as being secretive and dark, it's also gritty and raw, While watching, it is likely to get your curiosity going, as to if something like these brutal games actually occur anywhere in the world. As I said, it's a bit bizarre, but I can't say that i'd be surprised if it actually were true.
The film does have numerous important characters, but I felt as if they were handled equally well. Aside from Vincent, we have the character of "Jasper", which is portrayed by action superstar, Jason Statham. Jasper, who has a mentally handicapped brother named "Ronald Lynn", uses him for his own benefit. Jasper puts Ronald into the Russian Roulette games, only to bet on him and subsequently profit from him. I haven't seen all of Statham's films, but I would say that the role of Jasper is a little different for him, especially when compared to more recent roles. Jasper, he loves his brother Ronald, and has even spent money for his healthcare, but it is his own greed that basically has him abusing his brother. Ray Winstone, in addition does great as Ronald Lynn. Mickey Rourke also portrays a "player" in the form of his character "Jefferson", who is an ex-con. These days, portraying something such as an ex-con is natural for Rourke. Why is he always typecast? Well whatever the case, I like Mickey, and even at his worst, I probably still would, so, yeah I liked his small role here as well. As the ringmaster of the games, we have Michael Shannon, who is pretty hyped up here, as this was likely filmed around the time he was still in his "Kim Fowley mode". Also the film features Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson in the small role of "Jimmy". Through out the film, I wasn't quite sure of the purpose of the character, as Jackson doesn't do much here other than his character bets, but in other scenes, he just seems to "be there. For a fairly small film, it has great characters to watch however, and I enjoyed how the character development played out. There isn't a giant amount of character development here, but there is the necessary amount.
As for the story, I really enjoyed it. I sort of felt like it was complex, without being too complicated. As I said, the viewer really gets pulled in by it, especially when it comes to the character of Vincent. Vincent, who is portrayed by CONTROL's Sam Riley. does another fantastic job here. Ever since seeing him as the late JOY DIVISION singer, Ian Curtis in the biopic, CONTROL, I have been a big fan of his, as his performances are filled with genuine emotion. Here, once within the roulette games, Vincent doesn't say much verbally, but often says a lot with his emotions. Riley is really good at this kind of acting, and in 13 it's on fully display. It is through this emotional performance, that the audience latches on to Vincent, which in turn makes the film's dramatic ending so effective.
I have read numerous reviews online for this remake, the majority of them being negative. This is something I quite don't comprehend....did they see the same movie that I did? It seems as if these negative reviews are either targeting it as an inferior remake, or they simply didn't like it. Well, in my opinion, I truly enjoyed what I saw here, and see it as being a film that is both well crafted and effective
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
Again, this is one particular film that I am glad to not have passed on, it's a great psychological thriller. Sure the whole, "betting on someone else's torture" may be similar to the HOSTEL films, but overall, it's a new and interesting take on the whole setup. 13 is a film that is fun to watch progress, and the even better thing is that it goes in directions that you just might not expect. I highly recommend this film.
This film will be released on Blu-ray/DVD on November 8, 2011