With a cast list including Ray Winstone, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Alexander Skarsgard, David Zayas, Ben Gazzara, Curtis Jackson, Michael Shannon and Sam Riley you might be forgiven for scratching your head wondering why on earth this ended up direct to DVD.
The film centres on an underground tournament of Russian roulette. A select number of players (whether it is against their will or not) gather at a remote location to take part in and bid on the high stakes game where luck is the only survival tool.
Sam Riley’s newbie gets more than he bargained for when he shows up in the place of a recently dropped out member of the game – not quite expecting the job to be what he thought it would be. He is soon thrust into the game going barrel to head against the other contestants.
Throw in extended cameos from the likes of Rourke’s desperate to escape convict (watched over by Jackson’s bodyguard) also thrown in against his will, and Ray Winstone’s lunatic (recently signed out of the looney-bin by money grabbing brother Statham). As each round of the game passes, the members soon start to drop with more and more money to be grabbed at the end by all the betters.
The game itself is fairly tense. In fact the film being DTV aides in that cause as a cinematic release would be more predictable in its nature. You are never quite sure who will drop in each round (although we do suggest you avoid the trailer at all costs).
Michael Shannon goes perhaps a little too far as the games master who feels the need to shout every line of dialogue given for him to read. The big names in the cast do what they do (Winstone broods and eventually shouts the C-word, Statham growls quietly, and Rourke injects pathos into proceedings). Sam Riley – who has still to really take off as an international actor carries the weight of the drama and does it well. It is a mystery how the Control and Franklyn star hasn’t quite had that role that really exposes him to the big time.
Ultimately though 13 is let down by uninspired settings and flat direction. But if you like to shop for DTV goodies, this one manages to hold its head above the rest.