The Thirteenth Floor (1999) Josef Rusnak

Production Budget: $16 million
Worldwide Gross: $12 million

We keep going back to the theme of movies being released in twos: Deep Impact and Armageddon, Volcano and Dante’s Peak, etc.  Well when your doppleganger of a movie being release opposite you is The Matrix, then you are in deep sh*t.  Both films deal in the general theme of virtual reality worlds, but they go about it in different ways.  Matrix is a kung fu movie with pretentious philosophical ramblings, while Thirteenth Floor is more a murder mystery with a sci fi twist.

The story is about the inventor of a virtual reality world who is murdered.  Douglas Hall (Craig Bierko) is the inventors kind of protege who now inherits the company.  Douglas is suspected of the murder and now has to search for clues to the real murderer in the simulation of 1930’s America.

Now I am going to do one of the things which I HATE when other reviewers do it.  I am going to essentially brag about how quickly I figured out the twist ending.  If you don’t see the twist coming after the first third of the movie there is something seriously wrong with you.  Sh*t, I’m being too generous.  If you don’t guess by the poster there is something wrong with you.  Now the reason I am breaking one of my cardinal rules is I am not actually gloating about how smart I am.  I am criticizing the movie for telegraphing its big twist so early on.  And it wouldn’t be so bad if the whole movie and the murder mystery that its centered around didn’t hinge on this twist.  So when it is so easy it lowers the quality of the rest of the film.  You have characters debating for long periods of time when you wanna scream the answer at the screen and to tell them how stupid they are.

The acting is a mixed bag.  You get some good performances of the supporting cast of Dennis Haysbert, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and Vincent D’Onofrio (playing a crazy guy, as usual).  Craig Bierko is a big block of wood though.  He really doesn’t have the acting chops to play essentially three different roles with their own emotional ranges and quirks.  He has trouble enough with just one.

The movie is okay I guess.  Its a stock, if not forgettable murder mystery.  It does just enough right to keep you interested if you flipped through the channel and found it on the syfy channel (rolls eyes).  But as I already mentioned, its bland and forgettable.  I saw this in theaters when it originally came out.  Bringing this to the counter at Blockbuster (to re-review it) the clerk asked me about it and I said I don’t remember a single thing from this movie from the time I first saw it.  Its not bad, but then again I can’t really recommend it either.  It just doesn’t do enough to make it stand out.  My advice, watch Dark City instead.

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