Phase 4 Films
MSRP: $20.99
RUNNING TIME: 136 minutes

– Interviews with Stephen Dorff and Val Kilmer
– Behind-the-scenes featurettes

The Pitch

It’s The Bourne Identity meets Shooter.

The Humans

Stephen Dorff, Caterina Murino, Greg Bryk, Stephen McHattie, Lucinda Davis, Jonathan Higgins, Ted Atherton, John Bourgeois, jessalyn Gilsig, Val Kilmer.

The Nutshell

Accused presidential assassin, codenamed “XIII” (Dorff), awakens after having been wounded and bailing out of a plane.  XIII finds that he has complete amnesia and was involved in some kind of way with a vast conspiracy to seize power at the highest levels of the government.  With both allies and enemies after him, XIII must find the truth to not only save himself, but the country from a fascist power grab.

Well, somebody had to pay for Alone in the Dark

The Lowdown

I can say that XIII had potential; and it was certainly better than a lot of similarly-budgeted productions.  It tried to match the intrigue of The Bourne Identity; but in the end, it had neither the writing nor the acting to pull it off.  The film also reminds me a lot of Shooter, with an operative caught up in a huge government conspiracy right after a major assassination.  One of the major issues that the film runs into, however, is that it gets hard to keep the players straight.  Intrigue is good, but when you have this much going on in a film like this, needing a program to keep abreast of things isn’t good.  And there are only so many twists you can pack into a story before the viewer starts to  get whiplash. 

“The number of times Cruise got a stiffy in the volleyball scene…”

Dorff does a respectable job in portraying XIII and does the physical rather well.  But he’s ultimately let down by the script that buckles under the weight of its own aspirations, without having the characters to shore it up.  There is way more depth to the conspiracy than most any character in the story.  Also, central premise, that members of a well-financed
and very slick cabal that took down a sitting president are all running
around with tattoos that can readily identify them, is beyond
retarded.  Add to that the hackneyed Bourne memory loss angle and the film just can’t get it to come together.  And the all around shitty appearance by Val Kilmer as XIII’s main nemesis, The Mongoose, is laughable at best.  I’m trying to figure out exactly when Kilmer became Steven Seagal.

The Package

The production value of the film, which was a mini-series, is actually pretty good.  Transfer and audio are both fine as well.  In terms of special features, there are two interviews, one with Dorff that clocks in at 20 minutes, and one with Kilmer that’s around 12 minutes.  There are also three production featurettes, one on green screen filming (15 minutes), one on the action filming (5 minutes) and a behind-the-scenes (13 minutes).

V.IX out of X