×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

13

Arguably not since "The Vanishing" has a director remade his foreign-language breakout feature to such diminishing returns as with "13," Gela Babluani's Americanized reworking of his "13 Tzameti" (2006).

With:
With: Sam Riley, Ray Winstone, Curtis Jackson, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Michael Shannon, Ben Gazzara, Emmanuelle Chriqui, David Zayas, Alexander Skarsgard, Ronald Guttman, John Bedford Lloyd, Alan Davidson, Gaby Hoffman, Michael Berry Jr.

Arguably not since “The Vanishing” has a director remade his foreign-language breakout feature to such diminishing returns as with “13,” Gela Babluani’s Americanized reworking of his “13 Tzameti” (2006). A starry cast and glossier production values simply work against the black-and-white original’s strengths in this stillborn thriller about a deadly game of chance, which has already opened in various territories and formats since early last year. Long-delayed U.S. launch on a single screen in New York and Los Angeles on Oct. 28 is likely to be just a B.O. blip, with improved Stateside results to come via imminent DVD/Blu-ray release.

His parents’ home having been mortgaged to pay for his dad’s operations, Vince (“Control’s” Sam Riley) takes another man’s place at a mysterious event with a purportedly huge payoff. When he shows up at an isolated mansion after following secret instructions, his sponsors are most displeased to discover he’s an impostor, but let him participate anyway, to his immediate regret. Turns out he’s now a player in a game of Russian roulette in which high-stakes gamblers place bets on the rapidly dwindling number of contestants.

Georgian writer-helmer Babluani’s French-language original had a Kafka-esque air due to its monochrome lensing, spartan settings and refusal to provide much backstory or other explication. Unfortunately, “13” makes all the predictable wrong decisions in order to appeal to more mainstream audiences. While the basic story remains the same, the remake (co-penned by Babluani and Greg Pruss) weakens its impact by introducing flashbacks to illustrate how some other players got here: Mickey Rourke’s character was smuggled from a Mexican prison by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and other investors; Jason Statham has regularly checked brother Ray Winstone out of a sanitorium for the game. There’s also the unnecessary sentimentalizing of Vince’s domestic situation, and time is dully wasted on a pursuing police detective (David Zayas).

None of this would matter if the central action were still startling and suspenseful. But the Hollywood upgrade manages to lose those qualities, in addition to the original’s black-comedy undercurrent, by applying a generic coat of Holly-wooden machismo that the testosterone-heavy thesps, most of them acting on glowering autopilot, only reinforce. Betraying the pic’s long sit on the shelf is the nondescript supporting role played by now-hot Alexander Skarsgard (billed here as “Alex”), plus the presence of Michael Shannon, who mercifully has better things to do these days and delivers a rare weak performance here as the game emcee.

Packaging is slick, but a major minus among design contributions is the score, which underlines every already-obvious emotion.

Popular on Variety

13

Production: An Anchor Bay release of a Barbarian Film Group presentation of an Overnight Prods., Morabito Picture Co. and Magnet Media Group production in association with Oceana Media and Red Dragon Prods. Produced by Jeanette Buerling, Rick Schwartz, Valerio Morabito. Executive producers, Buerling, Maggie Monteith, Ron Hartenbaum, Douglas Kuber, Gela Babluani, Brian Edwards, Caroline Jaczko, Myles Nestel, Anthony Callie, Franck Dubarry. Co-producer, Iliana Nikolic. Directed by Gela Babluani. Screenplay, Babluani, Greg Pruss, based on the film "13 Tzameti" by Babluani.

Crew: Camera (color), Michael McDonough; editors, Babluani, David Gray; music, Alexander Van Bubenheim; music supervisor, Debbie Gold; production designer, Jane Musky; art director, Larry Gruber; set decorator, David Schlesinger; costume designer, Amy Westcott; sound (Dolby Digital), Ken Ishii; supervising sound editor, Lewis Goldstein; sound designer, Van Bubenheim; re-recording mixers, Gary C. Bourgeois, Phil Soussan, Goldstein; assistant director, Doug Torres; casting, Avy Kaufman. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Oct. 24, 2011. (In 2010 SXSW Film Festival.) MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: Sam Riley, Ray Winstone, Curtis Jackson, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Michael Shannon, Ben Gazzara, Emmanuelle Chriqui, David Zayas, Alexander Skarsgard, Ronald Guttman, John Bedford Lloyd, Alan Davidson, Gaby Hoffman, Michael Berry Jr.

More Film

  • Lawrence G Paull obit

    'Blade Runner' Production Designer Lawrence Paull Dies at 71

    Lawrence G. Paull, the Oscar-nominated production designer who helped create the distinctive looks of 1980s films including the visually groundbreaking 1982 “Blade Runner.” died on Nov. 10 of heart disease in La Jolla, Calif. He was 71. Paull received an Academy Award nomination for art direction with David L. Snyder for Ridley Scott’s prescient film [...]

  • Justin Timberlake'Trolls' film premiere, Los Angeles,

    Justin Timberlake Returns as a Performer and Producer for 'Trolls World Tour' Soundtrack

    Pop star Justin Timberlake, who earned an Oscar nomination for his contribution to the first “Trolls” movie three years ago, is returning to the franchise as the executive music producer of Dreamworks Animation’s “Trolls World Tour” soundtrack, scheduled for this March. . Assisted by Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer/producer Ludwig Göransson, Timberlake produced, wrote and [...]

  • Leon Bridges Emily Bode Fashion

    New Designers Bring Fresh Perspectives to Red Carpets

    As awards season is gearing up, Variety looks at emerging designers that will make their mark on the many red carpets ahead: Bode For the guys, Emily Bode’s eponymous line of one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted clothing cut from antique fabrics and Victorian quilts has earned a following that includes Donald Glover, Dyllón Burnside, Ezra Miller, Leon Bridges, [...]

  • Alma Harrel Honey Boy

    'Honey Boy' DP Natasha Braier Took Nonfiction Approach to Fiction Feature

    The “Honey Boy” script that cinematographer Natasha Braier read prior to signing on with first-time narrative feature director Alma Har’el to shoot star and writer Shia LaBeouf’s intimate memoir-focused arthouse film was psychologically rich and emotionally fraught with no visual cues. It was a deep character study of the beginnings of his acting career with [...]

  • Queen and Slim

    AFI Fest Puts Nonfiction in the Spotlight

    Documentaries will play a more prominent role than ever before at the AFI Fest, which kicks off Nov. 14. While AFI Fest 2018 featured 15 documentary features playing in various categories, this year’s edition of Los Angeles-based fest will play host to 22 feature docs, 16 of which will screen in the fest’s new documentary [...]

  • Ayesha Curry and Stephen Curry attends

    Ayesha Curry Honored With Variety's Vivant Tastemaker Award at Napa Valley Film Festival

    The rooftop bar at the tony Archer Hotel in the heart of downtown Napa made a stunning backdrop for Variety’s Vivant party on Nov. 13. Vivant was launched at the Napa Valley Film Festival, which opened Nov. 13 with “Just Mercy.”  Variety executive VP of content Steven Gaydos introduced Variety Vivant Tastemaker honoree Ayesha Curry [...]

  • Dwayne Johnson

    Dwayne Johnson's 'Black Adam' Movie Sets Release Date

    Dwayne Johnson’s long-in-development “Black Adam” movie is slated to hit theaters just in time for the holidays. The New Line Cinema film film will debut on Dec. 22, 2021, five days after the release of James Cameron’s long-gestating “Avatar” sequel. Johnson has been attached to play the anti-hero for most of this decade. Jaume Collet-Serra, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content