The Thirteenth Floor (1999)

Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Craig Bierko, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Gretchen Mol, Vincent D'Onofrio
Computer scientist Hannon Fuller has discovered something extremely important. He's about to tell the discovery to his colleague, Douglas Hall, but knowing someone is after him, the old man...
Bad script and confusing plot undermine the movie's impressive visuals.
  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 28 May 1999 Released:
  • 22 May 2001 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:

All subtitles:

Trailer:

Underrated Sc Fi Classic9/10
The Thirteenth Floor,in my opinion,is an underrated SCI FI classic. It ranks with Blade Runner, The Matrix & Dark City as Science Fiction with a brain. Not only does it raise philosophical questions around technology , reality and existence it is also an entertaining noir-thriller with a few twists. Visually it is similar to the films mentioned above (dark neon-soaked landscapes) however the contrast between the modern and the 1930's adds another level to the films beauty. The film is well cast (Gretchen Mol looks stunning)and Craig Bierko carries the film well. It's one of those rare films that crosses quite a few genres - intelligent sci fi - murder mystery - film noir - thriller - love story.If you enjoyed Blade Runner and The Matrix you will certainly like this film.
Solid Science-Fiction.8/10
This movie was both critically and financially panned. Why?

Two words. The Matrix.

The Thirteenth Floor is a good movie. No, it's not "The Matrix" all over again, but it wasn't trying to be. Comparing these two movies is like comparing Star Trek with Star Wars. Similar in aspects, but very different in others.

This is what happens when two movies of similar type are released in close proximity. The first one always has a jump-start on the second by means of box office success and pleasant reviews. That's why I think "The Thirteenth Floor" was branded as a bad movie. People had already seen "The Matrix" with it's knock-out special effects, cast and weren't open-minded for a movie on the same genre branch. So The 13th Floor was said to be 'a bland, pale imitation of the Matrix'.

Maybe "The Thirteenth Floor" doesn't have a star-studded cast - yes, it's cast is mostly regular supporting players, but they work well with the material. So there's no kung-fu ass kicking scenes, so what!

There's great atmosphere, a intriguing story and a real nice plot twist. To me that makes up a very fine movie. So I ask what was so very wrong with "The Thirteenth Floor" that made critics turn away and made it tank at the box office? Really it's people's unwillingness to give a similar movie a chance and instead opting to take the easy route and branding it as a "rip-off". Which is their loss unfortunately.
intriguing, thoughtful sci-fi thriller5/10

As the last millennium comes to a close and a new one opens, the science fiction genre seems to have latched onto a brand new narrative format - the cyber/techno thriller, wherein characters are free to wander in and out of virtual reality worlds and are even forced to call into question the validity of the world we have hitherto smugly referred to as "reality."

In 1999 alone, this theme has been explored in "The Matrix", "eXistenZ" and "The Thirteenth Floor." Actually, of the three, this is probably the most intriguing, intelligent and involving, successfully combining the elements of a whodunit with a clever sci-fi tale of a group of characters who drift in and out of a simulated version of Los Angeles in 1937. The plot, though complex, is spun out with coherence and ever-increasing clarity as the layers of information are slowly peeled back to reveal the larger picture. The filmmakers manage to create a sense of unbalance in the audience as we and the characters become more and more unclear as to what is reality and what is a simulation. Because the writers never lose their way, the result is a work of considerable mystery and intrigue.

In terms of art direction and cinematography, the film is a total triumph. The Los Angeles of 1937 the moviemakers have visualized on screen actually has a slight studio backlot, artificial feel to it - perfectly befitting just the kind of world a simulator would create. The photography in these sections also utilizes a slightly off color cast, nicely reflecting the tone found in color pictures of that era.

"The Thirteenth Floor" may not be a very "deep" movie, but it is an honorable addition to a newly formed genre that has not yet had time to ossify in its own conventions. Time alone will tell if filmmakers will be able to expand on this theme or whether, as with most genres, it will fall victim to its own inevitable cliches.
Thought-provoking and intriguing without being pretentious.5/10

The film, without an A-list cast, pulls off the plot well. The characters, although not really deep, are well structured, and the plot constructed with subtle complexity. The 1930s scenes are dramatically created. I found myself trying to guess the plot twists, but with little success as they unfolded. It was a good film, and richer in substance than the Matrix, and left you with a thought provoking afterthought about our own existence. Going into a movie, I hope to have avoided any prior information about the plot, and this one was well worth the purchase of the video. This could have made a great 3 hour movie to really develop the characters and the philosophical issues, however, it was reduced down to the 100 minutes time-span. I'd give it 8 out of 10.
Calm, honest, thought provoking9/10

For some time I have been hearing people refer to to The 13th Floor, mostly when comparing to other movies of the genre like The Matrix. I finally got around to view it myself, and I was positively surprised. After seeing Matrix I and II, its hard to imagine a film that can be on par. The 13th Floor is it. Not in action, stunts or CG, but by presenting an old, yet interesting idea in wonderful pictures and a genre between sci-fi and mystery. The main protagonists "calmness and integrity" contrasts with the absurd situation the characters are in. Camera, lighting and the "textures" are excellent and the sound track perfectly completes the unique atmosphere.

Very recommended!