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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Thirteenth Floor (1999)



Reviews and Comments

Sometimes I'm a great big sucker. Once in a great while, a neat idea, executed in the most cliche-ridden, overdone, predictable fashion, captures me in some way, and I get involved in the story in spite of itself. The Thirteenth Floor is like that. I can't say much in its favor -- maybe the amiable performance of Armin Mueller-Stahl should be commended -- and yet I enjoyed it. The flaws are many. Even while I was watching the movie, I was picking up on the cliches and inappropriate stock stereotype characters. It would have been nice, for instance, if the badguys in this movie weren't the usual irrationally evil maniacs, particularly since they were said to be perfectly upstanding, normal citizens prior to the plot's beginnings. If we can't figure out why the badguys are bad, the movie's just a big manipulative roller coaster ride that knows where to throw its audience but not how to do it. It's soulless. It's also one of the most predictable movies in recent years; one major twist, "revealed" around the half-way mark, is obvious almost from the beginning. The resolution of the climax is apparent a half hour from the end.

And yet, as I say, the movie caught my imagination. Maybe it was the visual look to the film, which is subtle but spectacular. Maybe I just like virtual reality movies, though there are enough I don't like at all. In any case, though I can't recommend this movie with a straight face, I was, in fact, suckered in by it, and that has to count for something.