Tuesday, 13 December 2011

13 (DVD/BluRay Review)

DVD Review of the action/thriller 13, remake of 13 Tzameti from director Géla Babluani and starring Sam Riley, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke & Ray Winstone
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Dir: Géla Babluani (13 Tzameti, L'héritage)
Cast: Sam Riley, Jason Statham, Alexander Skarsgård, Mickey Rourke, Ray Winstone, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Michael Shannon
USA, 2011

Reason to see: Love the cast & I enjoyed the original 13 Tzameti

It's pretty unusual to see and English remake of a foreign film where both are from the same director, but in 13 we get just what with writer/director Géla Babluani at the helm for the new version of his film 13 Tzameti. I saw 13 Tzameti when I was getting back into film years ago, and it really stuck with me because the story was so unique and based in an idea I had never heard or thought of before plus placing a thriller in the centre of a storm based on luck. That really impressed me, so much so that I was very curious to see how a remake of something so unique would hold up. This version of 13 using the same idea of combining luck-driven and high stakes with a more contained setting, reigning in breadth and possibilities of the concept and going for a classic thriller pace and presenting but not overly exploring moral questions about choice.

But, I do have to give the film credit where it's due and a huge draw to the film is the casting, and 13 certainly has one hell of an awesome cast. I'm a big supporter of Sam Riley (Control, Franklyn). I love Jason Statham (The Transporter, The Expendables) so by the time I saw Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast, King Arthur) you could pretty much knock me over by a feather, let alone the mention of Alexander Skarsgård ('True Blood'). I mean this is one talented and intense cast that was awesome to see them work together, some are easier to imagine in the same film (Jason Statham and Ray Winstone) than others (Alexander Skarsgård and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson), but they truly made it work. I actually loved that some of the folks actually felt a little like they were cast against type, like Alexander Skarsgård who is almost like a slightly frightened wallflower in this strange world of high stakes crime. One of the most interesting things about this ensemble cast is that they aren't really working together; they are all out for themselves - either to make money, or to make it through the night (or both). Although there is a fair amount of interaction between the characters, but often in a cat & mouse sussing-each-other-out way trying to find out true intentions over working together in any sense. That self-survival over all the odds adds a huge weight of intensity to the film that rides so high that I was glad it runs 91 minutes because I'm not sure I could take that level intensity for much longer!

I have to admit the film lost me a little bit when they seemed to play into a track record in 'the game' holding weight for skill and increasing the odds. Now, I'm not that into gambling but I'm pretty sure the intensity of Russian Roulette is derived from the fact of how much of it is luck, not skill, unless they were taking a fast-draw nouveau western in an underground setting, but I don't quite think so. Even so, I loved the performances in the films, especially Sam Riley who truly is a tremendous actor and he really brings a lot to 13 with an emotionally charged and intense performance as the often terrified Vince. Without the emotional intensity of his character, the film literally wouldn't have held together and I'm so glad that it does. I also quite enjoyed Ray Winstone and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson.

If you are looking for an intense crime thrilled with a hell of a great cast, 13 is a solid choice. And keep your eye on Sam Riley because he's really got 'it'. I can't wait to see more from him in the future.

DVD/BluRay Extras:
  • Featurette: the making on '13' (6 minutes) film clips and interviews with writer/director Géla Babluani on making a remake of his own film and with actors Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Sam Riley, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Ray Winstone and Michael Shannon on how they got involved with/were drawn to the film as well as describing their characters and alignment to the original film, the actors on working together and the director including his directorial style
  • Interviews with Cast & Crew (12 minutes) interviews with actors Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Ray Winstone, Sam Riley, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, and Michael Shannon on getting involved with the project, their characters, working together; interview with writer/director Géla Babluani on making a remake of his own film in terms of challenge as well as the draw to do it. Includes footage of the Making Of and then some, as well as being grouped together by person.
  • Behind-the-Scenes (8 minutes) Behind-the-Scenes of scene set up, locations, filming, monitor viewing, actor interaction, actor/director interaction, sometimes with ambient sound and other times with no sound; fair amount is focus on Jason Statham.
13 is available on DVD as of December 13, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again/buy it
I'd recommend it fans of intense thrillers

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011

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