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The Thirteenth Floor More at IMDbPro »

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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:

An Underrated Gem!

Author: Danii Disaster from United Kingdom
2 May 2013

Almost every review compares this movie to either "The Matrix" or "The Dark City" -- mostly unfavorably.

I don't know about anyone, but I thought this was better than "The Matrix", which was too polished and ritzy for my liking.

I've always had trouble understanding the hype surrounding "The Matrix". It's a fine movie, but it's also extremely overrated. And all the movies, with a similar premise, that were produced after it, are now destined to live in its shadow. Not fair.

I won't even mention "The Dark City", because, to me, it was *utter* crap. I hated it.

"The Thirteenth Floor" is a griping, atmospheric, well-acted movie with a decent plot. It doesn't have the "hi-tech" feel of "The Matrix", but that is what I like about it.

I'd gladly watch it again, and recommend it to anyone, who likes a decent sci-fi story.

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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:

A very under-the-radar science fiction film. And a pleasant surprise.

Author: Mr-Fusion from United States
26 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first thing you're stuck by while watching this movie is how stylish is it, both in terms of look and movement. A very odd concept: a murder mystery set in 1930s Los Angeles by way of virtual reality. Indeed, it's like the technology (very '90s) hopped in the sack with the design elements of "Gattaca" and nine months later, "The Thirteenth Floor" was born.

Solid performances from the cast, notably Craig Bierko's accused man, straining to get his questions answered before the cops get him (which includes the likable-but-still menacing Dennis Haysbert). And before I forget, the quite fetching Gretchen Mol. Not really much in the way of character development, but it helps that the focus here is on the central mystery plot.

But it's a story that keeps the viewer thinking from the very beginning, and one that leads to a nice surprise of an ending (not a shocker). And overall terrific production design that plunges you right into Los Angeles, 1937.


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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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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Most underrated Sci-Fi of all time

Author: p k from United States
7 October 2013

I will immediately say that this movie was panned by critics a like. I will also say that this is one of the most thought provoking sci-fi movies that has come out in recent years. Think of Inception but 12 years earlier. It's also very similar to Matrix without the violence. More of an artistic-noir look at Virtual Reality. If you're a sci-fan give this title a chance, you won't be disappointed. The acting is also underrated. Most of the actors in this movie have gone onto become big time actors. I think the problem was that Matrix came out at the same time and provided the de-facto standard for new Sci-fi, and what they are supposed to be.

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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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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Within the looking glass

Author: p-stepien from United Kingdom
5 November 2012

The peculiar year of 1999 brought about three sci-fi based flicks circling around the theme of virtual reality. The bombastic "Matrix" attacked sensorically, whilst inspiring some covert philosophical questions. Meanwhile David Cronenberg retreading paths already ventured eking out a somewhat redundant, albeit intriguing take on the new technoorganic future of mankind with "eXistenZ". With these two powerful pieces "The Thirteenth Floor", much more coy in ambition and restrained in goals, got somewhat overlooked, taking a historical back-burner, nonetheless garnering some fan-base, which allowed the picture to linger.

Hannon Fuller (Armin Mueller-Stahl), the creator of a virtual realm filled with conscious beings re-imagined in our likeness, ventures one last time into his 1930s inspired world to leave a message of warning to his associate Douglas Hall (Craig Bierko). Some grim mystery unravelled leads Fuller to desperation, but soon meets his end when murdered by an unnamed assailant. In order to uncover the cause of his mentor's death Douglas decides to enter the VR with the help of his coworker Jason Whitney (Vincent D'Onofrio). Meanwhile the heir to Fuller's company - a previously unknown daughter - Jane Fuller (Gretchen Mol) appears with claim to the fortune and to her father's discoveries...

Unmistakenly neo-noir, especially and unsurprisingly when thrown back to the razzmatazz of 1930s Los Angeles, "The Thirteenth Floor" creates a world, which feels instantaneously attractive. The concept itself of living in a programmed world may seem somewhat trivial, but the delivery is anything but. Hannon Fuller turns out to be less than perfect, as he used his newly created world to venture into sexual escapades with hotel dancers, living excessively and without remorse (unfortunately not an issue fervently explored). Similarly other people using VR tend to usurp the power given to do things they would never think of in real life, as if using the VR as a valve for releasing hidden anxieties and wants.

The problem however with "The Thirteenth Floor" comes with the final act. When the pieces start falling into place there remains no mystery and the solution becomes evident long before the puzzle has been solved. After a captivating setup the direction soon becomes all too obvious, thus the atmosphere of intrigue dissipates, leaving a rather hollow shell on which the director places a somewhat sappy love story with a twist. This part of the movie sticks out sorely and the director seems to put in all his best effort to close out and finish before everything spirals out of control. Once offering the solution to the mystery Josef Rusnak has nothing left to offer, albeit the issue of realising inner dreams in an alternative reality seems ripe for the taking (as well as the ills of playing God). Despite some overall allure a lot of the movie doesn't really work, which makes it a different take on the matter. Enjoyable but ultimately not one offering much deeper insight and with a faltering delivery (despite an astute and well bent script).

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The movie that it could've been...

Author: lplohmann from Brazil
3 June 2012

Don't be misguided by the reviews saying this movie sides with ones like Blade Runner or Matrix. While I must admit it clearly had the potential to do so, in the end, well, it just isn't so.

The plot of this film is very interesting. I wonder the book in which it's inspired must be very good. The characterization of the Los Angeles of 1930 is great. But the movie itself is very badly directed and most of the actors are just equally bad. Thi first half of the movie is very rushed what makes the characters seem pretty unreasonable and superficial.

So the in the end the result is just an ordinary movie. It's a little enjoyable, but far from memorable. I give it 5/10 for the studio having wasted such a good history.

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