is sort of like Fincher’s The Game,
with the economic sensibilities of Glengarry
Glen Ross. Supposedly, its origins trace back to ancient Rome, but savvy
Asian film fans will recognize its first cinematic manifestation came in
Chukiat Sakveerakul’s 13: Game of Death.
Daniel Stamm re-conceives the macabre Thai thriller in New Orleans, where the
desperate will still be tempted to commit the most heinous crimes throughout 13 Sins (trailer here), which launches
on DVD today.
Brindle would agree with Alec Baldwin, sales is a “tough racket.” Recently
fired from his firm for not being sufficiently predatory, Brindle is already drowning
in debt. In addition to his pending wedding to his pregnant girlfriend, Brindle
suddenly must also cover his developmentally disabled brother’s outpatient
treatment and care for his ailing racist father.
are looking pretty depressed for Brindle, but from out of the blue, a mystery
caller offers him one thousand baht (sorry, make that dollars) to kill the fly
buzzing around his car. Yes, their apparent surveillance is a little disconcerting,
but he does it anyway and the money is immediately deposited in his account.
The voice of character actor George Coe then offers him more money to eat the
fly, which is does, knowing it is just protein. Those were the first two
challenges out of thirteen. Of course, they escalate in severity, but Brindle is
already hooked. Failure will result in the forfeiture of his winnings, but all
the felonies he is about to commit will be wiped clean with ultimate victory.
and co-adapter David Birke cleverly devise challenges that are graphic and
game-worthy, but not so repellent they irreparably sabotage our rooting
interest in Brindle. There are some okay twists to the tale, but the big one
stretches credibility. For the most part, Stamm keeps the film humming along
slick and tight, without belaboring the class warfare undercurrent.
13 Sins also benefits
from ever-watchable genre vets Ron Perlman and Pruitt Taylor Vince as the
tight-lipped Det. Chilcoat and the twitchy conspiracy theorist Vogler,
respectively. Stamm has them standing around more than he should, but they each
deliver one of the film’s two best lines in perfect deadpan style.
contrast, Mark Webber is a rather weak lead, but he is still convincingly
earnest and put-upon as poor Brindle. Frankly, Tom Bower frequently up-stages
him as his snarling old man. On the down side, Devon Graye’s performance as
brother Michael is just problematic on multiple levels.
By thriller standards, 13 Sins is serviceable enough, but it never fully captures the
flavor of its NOLA setting. Frankly, that was a lost opportunity to give the
film a more distinctive identity. A professional return to familiar territory, 13 Sins is a passable but not essential
viewing for fans of dark thrillers with a dash of horror seasoning. It is now
available on DVD and BluRay from Anchor Bay and Radius TWC.
Labels: DVD, Remakes, Ron Perlman