13 DVD Review

March 13, 2010 saw the first ever release of Gela Baluani’s ‘13’ to the cinematic world. Fronted by Sam Riley and at a cosy ninety-seven minutes long, 13 is a perfectly crafted bubble of gripping entertainment.

The film is a re-make of Babluani’s original ’13 Tzameti’, which was released in 2005 in Venice and France. Given that Babluani has only ever released French films, the idea of him re-making one as an English version was an interesting feat to attempt, and one he pulled off well.

The film is supported by a well-crafted, not to mention well-directed, plot; spawned from a very hard-hitting concept: A desperate young man caught up in a brutally murderous game of Russian roulette. In his bid to raise money to pay for his father’s vital operation, the pressure is paramount upon Vince Ferro’s shoulders; a change in character that is flawlessly executed by Riley.

The introduction hosts very little explanation, keeping you snugly drawn as you find yourself in Vince Ferro’s shoes, discovering the meaning and nature of the plot as you go along. At first, the perspective is nicely balanced between Ferro’s home life and the gambling life that he is due to become a part of, until the two lives are combined and you see how they affect one another. The games affect Ferro’s perspective on his life and his family, whilst his life and his family affect his persistence to keep playing. The nature of the film’s structure leaves you consistently yet not uncomfortably brimming with anticipation as you watch betters swear and complain not over the loss of human lives, but merely of their money. When you are confronted by hard grown men crumbling in to unrecognisably vulnerable states, you rapidly realise just how graphic a concept it is.

Immediately one of 13’s most credible assets is its acting line-up, featuring the likes of Jason Statham, Ray Winstone, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Mickey Rourke and Sam Riley. It seemed no one was out of place in this thriller and every actor blossomed in their roles, Riley, Statham and Rourke being evident highlights. However, Rourke’s involvement did somewhat arouse confusion, with his character having a sizeable chunk of the story focus, yet no true necessity to the storyline itself and a rather blunt and unexplained exit. Additionally, Jackson’s involvement was also of little requirement, yet he remains featured as one of the top actors in the film. Such facts make me wonder whether Babluani merely hired some top acting names in the desperate hope it would spawn more viewers.

“Spin your cylinders…”

The film features four rounds which must be fought and survived in order to win a colossal $1,850,000. Four chances of dying and these chances greaten each time as an additional bullet is introduced with the start of each round. The tension becomes insurmountable as each round progresses, and this is one of the few films I have seen in which I have genuinely been pulled to the edge of my seat.

Visually, I was adequately satisfied as, except for a minor gripe with the realism of certain special FX make-up, it was of a high standard. The locations in which scenes were set were ideally chosen and the camera direction did well to compliment this. Musically, it seems simplicity was key as Alexander Bubenheim followed a Requiem For A Dream-esque approach, featuring a minimal, almost unnatural yet effective soundtrack.

Overall, credit where credit it due, the film ticks my boxes on the production front. However, at times the plot did seem to feel rushed and unstable. There were often large segments that bore no relevance, to the point where I would be itching to get back to the plot, yet would have to watch some unnecessary and overdramatic back story in order to get there. I felt the cast were well chosen for their roles, although it is evident it was more of a popularity contest than a genuine selection of talent. In conclusion, a nail-biting bout of excitement but it seems 13 is definitely bereft of the charm and appreciated aspects of the original.

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