Film #66: 13
2 out of 5 stars
Director Gela Babluani remakes his innovative French thriller 13 TZAMETI with this English language retread. Starring a cadre of faces like Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Alexandre Skarsgard, Michael Shannon, Ray Winstone, Chuck Zito, 50 Cent, David Zayas, and a nearly unrecognizable Ben Gazarra, the film fleshes out the material from the first film and makes it much more Western audience-friendly. 13 starts out an interesting premise – an underground game similar to Russian Roulette – but the character motivations are cliché (“my brother’s sick,” “my dad needs and operation,” “I’m down on my luck”) and the setup is janky, at best (characters are established and then summarily dropped, betting rules are muddled and unclear, numbers don’t add up, safety concerns are nonexistent, the kid signs onboard with what appears to be little moral confusion, etc). Still, the acting is pretty solid (although a couple of these guys do get misused – particularly Shannon who does little but call out instructions), and, while it takes a bit to get going, it offers an intriguing premise unlike what you’d see in most Western films. And then… there’s the final reel. Once the game is over, there are some dopey police interrogation scenes and an equally ham-fisted and down-right ridiculously unsatisfying conclusion. All in all, while this remake has a higher production value, as usual, the original is a much better film. Rent that instead.