Pro tip to underground Russian roulette gamblers: Don’t discuss your plans or the multi-millions you’re ready to inherit with the electrician working in the the next room. People with sense have such discussions in private.
Where would 13 be if that chatter didn’t happen? Nowhere, because it wouldn’t exist, this remake of a French film ditching the artsy facade for something a little more marketable, namely Jason Statham.
The punch-happy action star adorns the cover art, but this is clearly a superstar effort from Sam Riley,a UK-born actor delivering a tight, tense performance as someone in need of cash, unwittingly suckered into a sick game of revolver roulette. Money problems are necessitated by medical bills, although Sam’s character should probably be looking into assistance rather than a gun barrel.
Tension in 13 is derived from stand-offs, participants in this game developed by the obscenely rich standing back-to-back, risking it all as each shooter is giving minimal ammo. Strongly designed, 13 flounders with an opening shot that clearly has Sam in a one-on-one confrontation. Developing only a handful of other shooters, including a Mexican thug played by Mickey Rourke, 13 misses its thematically strong tension marker.
When the game is abandoned, this one devolves into a slippery chase, all of the roulette a past event with little impact on the closing punches. Sam solidifies his “good guy” status, and authority types see it another way.
It’s indicated that this gambling ring has been going through its paces for years, one of the contenders a three time champion. That begs the question why no one would expose the inner dealings, or how the authorities failed to track the piles of bodies left over from the slaughter. Someone here isn’t living up to basic moral standards, and someone else isn’t doing their job.
This numbered title thriller comes from the director of the French original, Gela Babluani, sticking with a strong film-based stock this AVC encode from Anchor Bay struggles to maintain. Despite a healthy encode, 13 runs a bit rampant with artifacting, the grain structure mushy as it covers walls. A couple of overly complex shots, one of a forest especially, becomes awash with noise that clearly shouldn’t be there, taking some of the wintery beauty on display down with inadequate compression.
Halos are abound too, high contrast edges unnecessarily over refined and sharpened. It matches those medium and long shots where faces take on a hilariously pasty, murky quality. There’s even some smearing during a few pans, certainly strengthening any argument towards needless manipulation.
It’s a shame too, most of 13′s refined, crisp, sweaty close-ups producing an extravagant level of facial definition. Pores and beads of sweat are only lost when the focus takes an inconsistent vacation, which is a little more typical than it should be. Black levels, with a firm grip on the material, will aid in capping the dimensionality at 100%, never wavering and willing to take a bit of shadow detail with them for the cause.
Colors initially carry a bright, dense quality, that maintained but then strangled for the usual rounds of orange/teal palettes. Flesh tones are unmercifully bronzed, and these sick aristocrats must love teal paint. Every room they own is drenched with it. There’s a lot of wasted HD potential here.
This Statham vehicle is popped onto Blu-ray with a TrueHD mix, preserving the material with enough zest to make those gunshots pop. This one won’t find much use for the subwoofer, keeping its gunfire loudly in the highs, and combined with the actors startled jumps, it’s an effective combo. Sparseness works in this tracks favor, making each loud shot count.
Surrounds will pick up the pieces, echoes from guns or some sternly placed dissonant chords at 9:42 that warp back and forth. Guns being cocked will register in each channel, sonically representing a circle effectively to complete the illusion.
There’s one glitch that pops up at 34:51, Statham chatting and each word containing a considerable buzz/crackle. It’s the only instance.
A single extra would have been nice, but no, Anchor Bay doesn’t offer anything, or even an “extras” menu.
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