Thirteenth Floor

Noir that’s virtual

Main Cast: Craig Bierko, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Gretchen Mol, Vincent D’Onofrio

Director: Joseph Rusnak

Plot Summary: A genius of virtual reality is killed and his apprentice, who is the prime suspect, hunts for answers both in his reality and the virtual world created by his master.

Steeped in the film noir tradition, this mystery-thriller is a pretty good view, despite the worn plot and sometimes cliché situations. Of course a certain amount of predictability in inevitable when you follow the tradition of a genre: in this case, the virtual reality is based in the 1930s and gives the director and writer a chance to have both a modern and dated feel simultaneously.

Any good film noir mystery has dark, rain-swept locations (dark alleys or dingy bars) interposed against fancy, opulent mansions (or, in this case, an exclusive hotel). The hero is accused of murder and must try to escape the frame, usually assisted (or not) by a beautiful, mysterious blonde (who may or may not be the actual murderer). All this is dutifully included in the film, but taken further when the virtual world “bleeds” into the real world of the characters. And vice versa.

Soon things are mixed and confused, both for the characters and the plot. Just who is who, when and where, what is real and what isn’t, and so forth is the meat of the story, and the movie pulls this off well enough.

I think the filmmakers did the best they could with a worn plot, adding to and enhancing it through the use of modern technology. While not great entertainment, it is solid, and certainly worth watching if you are a fan of the genre.

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