Tuesday, December 14, 2010

13 (2011)

English-language remake of the several years-old 13 Tzameti, also about a young electrician who is driven, out of desperation, to inherit a shady moneymaking venture from his late employer. The plot, as I predicted in my review of the original, is a telegraphed, more obvious version of the original; too many secrets and plot elements are revealed too early, and take some of the wind from the sails of the provocative series of events. There are also subtle changes to the plot that make the film more clean and palatable for American audiences, and less gritty and blunt. The style, although the director is the same as the original, is more saturated and dream like than the stark, black and white original. While it does not feel like a typical American suspense film, it is, predictably, a step in that direction away from the original.

What this production adds to the endeavor is its terrific cast. Although the lead is played by Sam Riley as a less extreme version of the original's protagonist, the rogue's gallery of miscreants includes Ray Winstone, Michael Shannon, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Ben Gazzara, Alexander Skarsgard, and 50 Cent; a very interesting, and phenomenally appropriate, array of tough-guys. Fitty holds up surprisingly well, and Statham is strong in a different sort of role for him, but the real scene-stealers are Mickey Rourke and Michael Shannon; without giving away the plot, they both bring so much weight to their respective roles (especially Rourke) that they stand apart from the rest of the insular, almost B-movie structure.

Recommended to fans of the original, of terse, unconventional indie thrillers, or the killer cast. While it does not usurp the in-your-face intensity of the phenomenal 13 Tzameti, there is enough going for it to recommend it alongside, but certainly not instead, the original.

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