Thursday, April 3, 2014

//RVW SPCL: 13 Sins- Hmmmm

I think I've figured out when you can call yourself a person that's been-there with films: you find that you've seen a small-scale foreign production but forgot about it. So was the case with a Thai movie called 13 Game Of Death. Not that I consider myself a film-aficionado any more- my days of watching 4-5 movies in a row are way behind me now that I'm fitted with cheap ray-ban knockoff stigmaspectacles. For the movie, however, I watched it during that time. A not-so-great but not-too-bad movie about some dude who gets involved in a voice-telling-you-to-do-shit-for-cash-through-cellphone game. The movie barely has enough of a good premise to keep it going for a movie that's barely spoken in english- let alone an American remake of a movie that's closely assembled like many cellphone thrillers before it. Sure, not many put together specifically in that particular manner but the characteristics are still there. Cellular has a white dude running around for ages with a cellphone, 13 Tzameti (and its western counterpart 13) have the whole 'lot-of-money-is-waiting-for-you-upon-the-completion-of-this-fucked-up-challenge' plot. Sufficed to say that this isn't really that fresh of an idea.


What this movie has going for it though is that they made the good choice of hiring Mark Webber- a seasoned Indie actor who never fails to submit to any character given to him. Also, Ron Perlman and that chick from True Blood are in this. The competent direction of Daniel Stamm helps steer everything in a fashion that's somewhere between thriller and indie-drama. It doesn't lose much of the slightly humorous touch that the Thai version had but doesn't really add much of its own charm either- leaving an entertaining but, still, rather bland experience as a result. It's like an indie Thriller without the experimental sultriness that makes Indie-thrillers nice to watch.

The mentally-handicapped brother was a good touch. Though I was kind of left baffled at the extent of his handicapped-ness. He's too mentally-estranged to have a normal life on his own but too little to do some of the capable things he does in this movie? Whatever, I'll let that one go. Ron Perlman gives whatever he can as the ?-motivated cop who just shows up here and there before a twist gives him off as a villain- I guess.

Oh, hold that thought. I just realised that I didn't even break down the movie for those who haven't seen it. Well: Elliot (played by Mark Webber) is this dude that's down on his luck. His Liberal Arts Degree doesn't do him jack shit, he's under debt, has no money, has a wedding and rent to take care off blah blah and he gets fired. He gets a phone call and a rather silly game-show voice on the other end tells him he's being watched. As soon as he completes a simple task a large sum of cash will be forwarded to his bank account. Of course, like any solid capital-opportunist, he goes along and finds that his rewards grow bigger as the challenges get tougher. That is until he hits a point of no-return and must keep on going.

The movie Cheap Thrills coincidentally highlights the same average-Joe tendency to battle on through moral-ambiguities for capital under the guise of financial securities. Both characters Elliot and Craig have families they use as a reasoning for their undertaking of the challenges and both have their brother (or brother-like) figures that rise up to challenge them as a result. Is it a coincidence that both movies also happen to come out around the same time- 2013-2014? However, where 13 Sins lacks in charm, Cheap Thrills makes up for it by having a relatively small world we can quickly familiarise ourselves with. We know who the challengers are- a rich middle-aged man in Crisis and his young has-it-all bored wife. There is no shadowy-elite in Cheap Thrills like there is in 13 Sins and Raze. We immediately have a face to put to the Villainy and, to an extent, can even relate to their motivations. It becomes humorous once the veil is lifted.


The point of the game in 13 Sins is to show that human sympathy can be curbed by capitalism and turned into monstrosity, right? That is the message we're supposed to take away from the film- everyone has a darker layer of evil hidden with just a stack-load of cash necessary to bring it out. I would agree with this sentiment if it weren't for the fact that everyday we see people who are humble enough to not commit crimes and submit to sociopathic tendencies just to feed their family. Many do have the choices presented to them to follow a life of crime but do not chose it. Also, Elliot's world makes little sense because Americans are not at the mercy of their current environments. Many do leave the U.S. in battle-loads just to work and put their skills to use abroad. The scenario envisioned in this movie becomes silly once you realise this. Also, writers need to put this 'Evil Elite' gimmick to a rest. Sociopathic Rich people can and do entertain themselves with normal-everyday things that do not involve muggle-bloodshed. Just watch House Of Cards  and understand that powerful people like PlayStation as much as everyone else.