The Thirteenth Floor is where some secret research is occuring in a bid to travel back in time and, for one Hannon Fuller (Armin Mueller-Stahl), see again what the world was like in your youth. However, in his travels back to 1937 he knows the new world is nothing more than a computer simulation.
Problems are abound when Fuller is murdered and prime suspect is Douglas Hall (Craig Bierko, who some will remember as the main bad guy from The Long Kiss Goodnight, one of his staff. Along with colleague Jason Whitney (Vincent D’Onofrio), Douglas goes back to 1937 to find out exactly what’s going on because he certainly doesn’t remember killing anyone, let alone his boss of whom he respects greatly.
Back in the good old days, Douglas meets a bartender named Ashton, the alter-ego of Whitney, who has been handed a letter from Fuller to give to Douglas before he’s killed. Naturally Ashton doesn’t do this and the scene is set for his nasty realisation that his world isn’t what he expected.
Now if you read the above, it might make the film sound dull and derivative as hell, but for me, with its overtones of Back to the Future, Tron and Quantum Leap, it comes together really well and has a clever twist that will make you question your own reality.
The cast also includes Gretchen Mol as Fuller’s daughter Jane – who only shows up after he’s dead and brings some major revelations with her – and Dennis Haysbert as Detective Larry McBain, who turns up body after body for which Douglas cannot account.
The picture has a layer of grain in many of the scenes, which seems to affect quite a few Columbia titles and for no reason whatsoever. The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 ratio and is anamorphic, while the average bitrate is 4.65Mb/s, occasionally peaking above 7Mb/s.
The sound fares much better though. There are great sound FX to be heard when someone goes into the simulation, effecting producer Roland Emmerich‘s Stargate movie, not to mention a well-used soundstage that creates tension and in the past, your room is filled with the sound of thirties’ music band.
Extras: A 2-minute Trailer, Filmographies for just Bierko, Gretchen Mol and the director, a Music Video courtesy of the Cardigans (Erase/Rewind), a Conceptual Art Gallery – albeit with just a few pictures and a Before and After SFX Comparison for some scenes but again it’s only a small number of images.
There’s also a feature-length Audio Commentary from director Josef Rusnak and production designer Kirk M. Petruccelli, but you get the feeling that most of these extras will be ones that you won’t go back to very often.
Chapters: A good round 28 chapters from Columbia.
Languages/Subtitles: Dolby Digital 5.1 in English alone. Subtitles in 14 languages: English, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Icelandic, Hindi, Hebrew, Dutch, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Greek and Norwegian.
Menu: Simple, static and mirroring the front cover.
Overall, this is an accomplished little film even if the ending is rather cliched. It also failed to get a cinema release in the UK, perhaps due to poor US box-office performance as it went almost head-to-head with last year’s total clunker, but somehow popular, The Matrix.
Running time: 96 minutes
Studio: Columbia TriStar
Released: July 3rd 2000
Region(s): 2, PAL
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: 14 languages available
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Super 35)
Disc Format: DVD 5
Director: Josef Rusnak
Producers: Roland Emmerich, Ute Emmerich and Marco Weber
Screenplay: Josef Rusnak and Ravel Centeno-Rodriguez
Music: Harald Kloser
Douglas Hall: Craig Bierko
Hannon Fuller: Armin Mueller-Stahl
Jane Fuller: Gretchen Mol
Jason Whitney: Vincent D’Onofrio
Detective Larry McBain: Dennis Haysbert
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.