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The 13th Floor (1999)
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Review Date: June 01, 1999
Director: Josef Rusnak
Writer: Josef Rusnak, Ravel Centeno-Rodriguez
Producers: Roland Emmerich, Ute Emmerich, Marco Weber
Actors:
Craig Bierko as Douglas Hall
Gretchen Mol as Jane Fuller
Vincent D'Onofrio as Whitney/Ashton
Plot:
A virtual reality program in which one could consciously transport oneself into another universe is at the heart of this story that begins with the murder of the man who invented the simulation itself. When one of his prime employees is accused of the man's murder, he must go inside the machine himself, in order to find out who really killed his boss and how he ended up on the most wanted list.
Critique:
It is very appropriate that the famous quote of "I think, therefore I am" precedes this film's credit run, since "thinking" is the primary exercise to which this movie will have you subscribe. To a certain extent, it is quite unfortunate that this "virtual-reality" film comes on the heels of other similarly themed ones such as THE MATRIX (8/10), eXistenZ (8/10) and DARK CITY (9/10), since we cannot help but compare it to the others, and depreciate from its originality which is diluted due to its repetitive ideas. Having said that, I still did enjoy most of this film which actually starts off feeling more like a BACK TO THE FUTURE movie than anything else. Its grainy, vintage look also appealed to me, as did the murder mystery that absorbed its first half.

Unfortunately for its creators, the film does seem to lose ground during its second half, when everyone and their grandma seems to be moving from one parallel universe to the other (One dude walked out of our screening mumbling something about "not knowing what was real anymore"). The only scene that confused me was the final one which did not seem to make sense to me according to the explanations that had preceded it before, but alas, I might've missed something. The actors were all pretty good with Mol and D'Onofrio pulling off fine dual roles, and newcomer Craig Bierko (new to me!) punching in his best poor man's George Clooney imitation (Nice 'burns, tough guy!). All in all, the movie had enough mood and mystery to spark my initial interest, enough plot to keep it going in the midsection, but ultimately too similar in story to many of the better films specified earlier to register in my mind as anything more than a virtual-noir sci-fi leftover plate. By the way, if it's action or special effects you're looking for, this film is not for you! It contains neither of the two, but does play many a mindgame with your head, if that's your vibe.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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