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The Thirteenth Floor
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The Thirteenth Floor More at IMDbPro »

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Sci-Fi Film Noir

Author: sircmichaels from United States
1 January 2006

This movie is clever and fun, and relies on less action and more thought to drive it along than, say, The Matrix.

I am not a fan of martial arts films, and while I don't mind action films, I tend to find them to be a bit boring.

This is a real thinker, a sci-fi film quite unlike any other I have seen. I've always been fond of this movie, with actors who are not well-known but still manage to shine on their own. With relatively unknown actors in the film, it made it much easier to accept the reality of the story than if there were stars all over this film.

Also, there are actions scenes but they do not require unrealistic kung fu moves that go on and on for twenty minutes. Instead, there is a nod to the film noir genre, with its tough-guy characters, shady dames, and guns and fists.

If you enjoy detective films, sci fi, or just like to be entertained, this will definitely serve well.

If you are looking for some run of the mill sci-fi goof-off, go check out something else.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Entertaining and thought-provoking....very underrated

Author: The_Void from Beverley Hills, England
13 November 2005

The Thirteenth Floor is one of those films that has gotten lost under all the more well-known films of the late nineties; and this is a shame, because it's a damn sight better than a lot of the films that always receive praise from the critics. Not everything in this film works, and for that reason and others; it's no masterpiece, but you've got to admire The Thirteenth Floor for it's originality, and it's ability to pull a coherent plot out of a scenario that has 'disaster' written all over it. The film is based on the book "Simulacron-3" by Daniel F. Galouye, which is the same book that inspired Rainer Werner Fassbinder's "World on a Wire". Whether or not this version is better, I can't tell you having not seen Fassbinder's version; but I can tell you that this version is worth seeing. The film follows the death of a computer programmer. He was working on a computer simulated world before his death, and his colleague; Douglas Hall, believes that the programmer left the key to discovering his murderer inside the virtual world...prompting him to go in search of it.

The film works both as an entertaining science fiction flick, and a thought provoking drama. The film asks questions about the value of life and the ills of playing God; and although these questions have been asked by many films many times before; here, it's done so well that you forget that and ask yourself these questions all over again. The twist at the centre of the movie extremely well worked, and after it hits you'll ask yourself how you didn't guess it sooner - and that is testament to the excellent plotting preceding it. Despite being a science fiction film, there is very little in the way of special effects in this film. However, the movie makes up for this with the excellent way that 1937 Los Angeles is created - it's easy to buy into the film's multi-world plot, and for that reason; it doesn't need special effects to work. The acting is largely good, with Craig Bierko impressing in the lead role. Vincent D'Onofrio, Gretchen Mol and 24's Dennis Haysbert, who is excellent in his small role, support him. On the whole, this isn't brilliant or a masterpiece; but as far as modern Sci-Fi goes; this is one of the best I've seen.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Wonderfully inventive movie...

Author: barryjaylevine from United States
14 July 2008

...unlike the second and third Matrix films, "- Rehashed" and "- Regurgitated".

Lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing all the way to the end. Just enough good special effects to generate some "wow!"'s. At heart, this is a film noir murder mystery that Rod Serling would have loved; shows what a good script with a hard-working cast can do (if kept far enough away from George Lucas).

Twenty years from now, when the Matrix trilogy is finally relegated to the dustbin, if only because it took itself too seriously, The Thirteenth Floor will be remembered with the respect it deserves.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A movie with a plot instead of special effects

Author: boczkie from United States
24 June 2006

Having avoided seeing "The Matrix" and pre/sequels I didn't have that to compare "The 13th Floor" against. Actually, I wandered into the movie during a very late TV broadcast, and was seriously confused for a lot of it. when I got a chance to see the entire movie I enjoyed it greatly.

The idea of virtual reality is very old hat to science fiction readers, but the idea of dropping into an existing character is thought-provoking. (I started to give examples, but this movie doesn't deserve spoilers--you need to see it cold.) Suffice it to say, the characters in the simulated 1937 were real to themselves. They didn't need someone playing God with their lives--as the present-day people find out.

If you like flashy special-effects and kick-ass action, this isn't much of a movie (though both 1937 and present-day LA were beautifully done--I would have loved to have seen more of both). But if you prefer a story, "The 13th Floor" is a good movie. Don't go looking to compare it to another--watch it on it's own merits. Even the syrupy end isn't too bad--and I'd like to have seen more of that world also.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

"The Matrix" has this film.

Author: XweAponX from United States
28 June 2011

This film was overshadowed by, and ultimately lost in The Matrix, just like Dark City. Each of these films dealt with our perception of reality, but this one here, at least in Book form, was the absolute first, decades prior to the Wachowski brothers.

Released in a flurry of invisibility in May 1999, exactly two months after The Matrix came out, this film was quietly swallowed up in The Matrix, although it was almost the exact same premise as The Matrix.

Produced by world-destruction expert Roland Emmerich, directed by Josef Rusnak (who is directing this year's "Beyond") - For a film made by Emmerich, this film does not have 15-mile wide spaceships, or a huge Pyramid ship and a Ring that flushes sideways, or environmental disasters, or Mel Gibson waving Flags that had not been conceived yet... This film is a very quiet, Noir film, completely different than the normal Faire that Emmerich's company Centropolis produces.

With a cast headed by Craig Bierko, a very pretty Gretchen Mol, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Dennis Haysbert, not to mention a hippy version of Vincent D'Onofrio along with a Bartender version of same, this film was the first to ask the question: "What if... what we perceive as reality is not reality at all, but some constructed thing?" - But whereas The Matrix has only The Matrix, this film deals with Worlds within Worlds, a concept and direction that I thought The Matrix was taking in the final scene of "Matrix Reloaded" but was disappointed to be proved wrong with "Matrix Revolutions".

That is where story-wise, this film supersedes The Matrix, it has a much superior concept driving the storyline. Where the Matrix was globbed together by the Wachowski brothers, this film was actually based on a world-class science fiction novel "Simulacron-3" written by Daniel F. Galouye. An Earlier version of this story was made for TV in West Germany in 1973 as "World on a Wire".

In 1937 Los Angeles, Hannon Fuller (Armin Mueller-Stahl), leaves a Hotel, visits a bar and gives bartender Jerry Ashton (Vincent D'Onofrio) a note to be given to a man named "Douglas Hall". Needless to say, Ashton immediately opens the note. Fuller goes home and goes to bed, and wakes up in 1999 Los Angeles... He was in a Virtual Construct of 1937 Los Angeles.

This is the beginning of the film - in 1999 LA, some bad things happen and Douglas Hall is to be blamed for them... Until he meets Fuller's Daughter Jane (Grethen Mol) who can give him an alibi - Except for the fact that she does not exist and Fuller "Never Had a Daughter" according to cop Dennis Haysbert. From there, this film wades between 1937 Los Angeles and 1999 Los Angeles... And we have to guess how deep the construct goes. In a way, this is similar to the film "Inception" and the "Dream within a Dream within a Dream within a Dream" concept... Except that this is no dream, as Ashton tells Hall: "We are real people and you are screwing with us".

If The Matrix had not bombarded the market with it's weaker concept of this plot, this film might have been the sleeper of 1999. As it is, I think this film is the better of the two, although I liked both of them.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

It's okay

Author: Polaris_DiB from United States
6 December 2005

It starts as a typical VR story: Oh dear, if we can create worlds that are exactly like ours, is our world real or is it just another video game? What's reality? What's reality?! Okay, so we've been here before. Many many times before. What is different about this movie is that it actually simplifies the situation by giving a solution to it. In order to provide a sort of reasonable climax that isn't just throwing everything into the wind and saying, "Haha, now you aren't certain, are you?" this movie does what seems to be the blatantly obvious and gives the simulacrum a soul.

THAT'S awesome because honestly it's nice to have a sort of direction for this philosophical discussion, and instead of making it, "If they have a soul, what does that mean to us?" it just ends with the, "But they have a soul... leave them alone." This is a refreshing break from everything else along this topic we've been subject to.

Unfortunately, that's about all that's good about this movie. Flat acting holding up a slightly misappropriated pace centers around a story that seemed to struggle, really struggle to find a way to fit in at least a little violence and a love story. A few blatant plot-holes coincide with a hidden enemy whose motivations are incredibly contrived and forced. This film doesn't feel or work as well as it should, and it seems utterly removed from the spectators, almost as if it's so caught in its own world that it doesn't really care about being a story, it just cares about getting the job done.

Yet as a practice in mise-en-scene and as one of the few movies of its subject matter that decides to actually conclude its message, it's still something to be appreciated in its own way.


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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

An intelligent sci-fi story brilliantly told

Author: perkypops from United Kingdom
3 May 2011

Like Dark City before it, The Thirteenth Floor uses dark textures to maximise the effects of the disturbing issues it addresses. A superbly written script sucks us into the ideas the story is exploring before shaking loose another layer of stuff to think about. As Dark City moved the buildings and furniture around, The Thirteenth Floor moves the characters around different times - is anyone real or are we being treated to someone's imagination? The acting is top class throughout, the screenplay deftly executed, and the cinematography brilliantly evocative of what we are supposed to feel. There is very little to find fault with. What does surprise me is that this film has not received a greater following.

Well worthy of 9/10.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Potentially good, instead just okay.

Author: hypnopaedia (
25 June 2001

Pretty interesting movie in general, but with some flaws. While watching, I was continuously being reminded of other movies (which is a bad thing). I know that The Thirteenth Floor didn't rip off these other movies, but it did stumble into its share of cliches. When Armin Mueler-Stahl is walking in and everyone greets him even though he doesn't know them; reminded me of The Graduate with Benjamin at the hotel. The scene when the cop pulls over Ashton and finds the body in the trunk reminded me of just about every movie. And the idea that their world was artificially created and their is an end point signifying a fake world, definitely reminded me of Dark City. Finally, the dumb chase scene near the end where the elevator door is closing and Bierko just barely gets his hand in to prevent it. Bullets fly and it's a shame.

There was one really cool thing that I noticed. The same song that the band is playing in a '30s scene is again played by a live band in a '90s scene when Bierko and Mol are dancing. Very nice special effects too. The acting was good, with the main characters sometimes acting in three different roles. For a great movie with Bierko in it, see Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas; Bierko is simply hilarious in the scenes that he appears.

The ideas that the movie presented were very interesting. I wish the writer and director would have followed the philosophical implications instead of what they did. It should have showed the hopelessness and despair that the characters of the artificial world would now be going through, for example; the cop (who throws in his share of dumb lines), instead of the lovely and uplifting final scene. It would have made for a much more powerful ending. So, good; but could have been better. Worth your time though.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A 1999 like of "I N C E P T I O N"!

Author: RainbowCastel from Switzerland
31 October 2010

Well, well. What a surprise I got here watching this 11 years old movie!

After watching the Inception, searching about reviews on it on the net and more good Sci-Fi movies, I noticed the name of this movie.

I can tell you that I was amazingly surprised of the quality, act, story, ambiance and the final twist of this movie. Although there are not much CGI compared to these days movies, it keeps the viewer hooked to the story and characters.

For me it is in the same category as Dark City, The Matrix and now the Inception.

Very underrated. A great solid, multi layer and feel good Sci-Fi movie. One of those at the end you start looking around thinking, What If ...!

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

They say déja vu is a sign of love at first sight, well this sure was a déja vu, but love it wasn't.

Author: stamper from The Netherlands
27 August 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well this is not only an original thriller but a pretty good one too. Although it sure makes a little bell ring in my head (SPOILER AHEAD<>WARNING MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD), for the way the film goes reminded me a lot of eXistenZ. However these two films are not the same. Whereas the twist is saved for the ending in eXistenZ in The Thirteenth Floor you are told in the film a long time before the film ends, plus you can figure it out before if you really search for something and if you keep your attention, which I didn't (END OF SPOILER<>START READING AGAIN). Furthermore there really isn't that much to say, the effects were good as was the acting and the plot. The only thing that I really didn't like that much in this film was, that it sometimes was too predictable and I think it's a pity, because it kind of made the film a bit worse than it actually was, because it was an entertaining and exciting movie. This film was just the way a thriller is intended and meant to be.

7 out of 10

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