13 [Blu-Ray] Gela Babluani

13 [Blu-Ray] Gela Babluani
Georgian filmmaker Géla Babluani's remake of his film, 13, features a strangely discordant cast. Consistently excellent actors like Ray Winstone and Michael Shannon perform alongside the wooden Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and one trick pony Jason Statham. Somewhere in the middle are Mickey Rourke, Alexander Skarsgård and Sam Riley. The disconcerting mixture of talent levels is matched by the film's confusion about what it wants to be. 13 is about an underground gambling ring in which wealthy elites place million-dollar bets on what basically amounts to a large game of Russian Roulette. Seventeen men (some who have come by choice in order to win the prize money awarded to the winner, some who have been kidnapped and forced into the game against their will) stand in a circle, each pointing a gun with one bullet at the next man's head. They are all instructed to fire simultaneously and those who remain alive move on to the next round until only one man is left. But, somehow, the film can't decide on the tone it wants to take. Is it a Sartrean existential dilemma, as Michael Shannon suggests in the Blu-Ray's "Interviews" feature or is it some kind of thrilling cat-and-mouse chase, as Jason Statham seems to think? Couldn't it be both? Sure, but this version isn't. The emotional attachment to our poor, sad, confused protagonist (the angel-faced Sam Riley) is never solidly established, so we're left not caring much who lives or dies, and that's a problem in a film about who lives and who dies. Still, the action and suspense elements are pretty decent, and it's worth watching, if only to talk about where such a lofty and thought-provoking concept went wrong in execution. The "Interviews" feature included on the Blu-Ray is riddled with spelling, grammar and punctuation errors on its title cards, making one wonder whether a child put it all together in a hurry. The actors mostly speak about what a privilege it was to work with the other actors (yawn), with the notable exception of the eloquent and charming Ray Winstone, whose thoughtful remarks on playing for the camera in a manner closer to stage acting than cinematic convention (in which cameras usually orient themselves around actors) are very interesting. The "Making of…" featurette is nothing more than a repeated compilation of snippets from the "Interviews" nugget. If you watch both, you'll just hear the same thing twice. In fact, the "Making Of…" featurette is actually erroneously named, since it tells us absolutely nothing about the making of the film other than what a pleasure it was for the actors to work with each other. (VVS)