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13 Film Review

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Remake of French Thriller Revolves around Grisly Game of Russian Roulette

Sometimes you have to wonder why they keep foisting English-language remakes of great, little-known foreign films on the unsuspecting public. While these knockoffs might make it easy for folks who hate reading subtitles, that demographic might be better off watching a dubbed version of a sleeper than a watered-down imitation lacking sophistication and charm.

Invariably, the American version pales in comparison, and alas such is again the case with 13, a crime caper loosely based on a French masterpiece of the same name. The original was a riveting, edge-of-your-seat thriller about a down-on-his-luck roofer who was forced to participate in a high-stakes game of Russian roulette in which everyone but the winner will die.

There is considerably less tension in the 2011 edition because it isn't tautly edited and since several contestants get to survive the ordeal. The picture squanders a big-name cast featuring Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, 50 Cent, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Michael Shannon and Ray Winstone.

At the point of departure, we learn that the protagonist, Vince (Sam Riley), is an electrician desperate to pay his ailing father's mounting hospital bills. After impersonating his late employer, he ends up in a mansion full of mobsters, and standing in a circle of 17 guys holding pistols to each other's heads while the sadistic gangsters place bets on who will survive each round of gun play.

Despite a big, Hollywood budget allowing for a more grisly and more graphic, high attrition-rate adventure, it all somehow still adds up to less. Rent the original.

Fair (1 star)

Rated R for graphic violence, bloody images and brief nudity

Running time: 90 Minutes

Studio: Anchor Bay Films

To see a trailer for 13:

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze.

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