johnlink ranks THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR (1999)

THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR is one of those movies I think of as being pretty good, I’ve seen it a couple of times, and I can usually remember almost nothing about it. There’s a place in the world for forgettable science fiction entertainment, and this is it. I mean, not to give away the conclusion of the article before I start or anything. Crap. Anyway… here it is…


I watched THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR (1999) on 1.3.13. It was my third viewing of the film and first in probably seven or eight years.

We are dropped into 1930s Los Angeles. Armin Mueller-Stahl plays Hannon Fuller, a man seemingly out of place. Turns out he doesn’t just seem out of place, he is. 1930s LA is merely a virtual reality creation which Fuller visits regularly. He has doubled the people in his life and dropped them into his fantasy world as other characters. Unfortunately, Fuller is quickly killed back in ‘real’ Los Angeles in the present day. A member of his company, Douglas Hall (Craig Bierko), is being framed for it. He decides to go into the virtual world to try and solve what happened. Fuller’s daughter (Gretchen Mol) shows up too. She’s suspicious, which doesn’t help, because a Detective (Dennis Haysbert) is already making life tough for Douglas.

THIRTEENTH FLOOR turns out to be a poor man’s version of THE MATRIX or DARK CITY. It doesn’t have the style of either of those two cousins, though it does deliver on the suspenseful fun. THIRTEENTH FLOOR is forgettable partly because of its inability to create a true style. 30s Los Angeles looks mostly painted on. Modern Los Angeles feels like a studio. Instead, this focuses on the characters and the mystery of what happened to Fuller and why.  The result, then, is a nice enough story which doesn’t have too many holes, and which entertains well enough.

This thing is filled with actors who went on to big TV roles. Haysbert would soon play President Palmer in 24. Mol plays a paranoid matriarch in Boardwalk Empire. Vincent D’Onofrio also appears here, and he would soon go on to headline one of the three dozen Law & Order spin-offs. Even minor parts have stars, with Shiri Appleby showing up for a minute or two.

Ultimately, this is a movie which thinks it is more sophisticated than it is. The twist at the end is predictable, though it doesn’t make it less fun. The big payoff moments work in the moment, even if it’s all stuff that has been done before or done better. The computer effects aren’t terrible, and the realization of this virtual world is not as dated as you would think it might be coming from a fifteen year old movie.

But, if this point hasn’t been driven home enough, this is a movie which is easy enough to throw on for 100 minutes and find yourself entertained. The world doesn’t have enough light sci-fi, and THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR delivers on that level.





~ by johnlink00 on January 4, 2014.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR (1999)”

  1. Interesting. I’ve never even heard of this.

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