Sunday, June 7, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: The 13th Warrior (1999)

I've always felt that this was one of those cases where a film with a troubled production was judged as much for the woes the filmmakers encountered during filming as for the picture itself.  While there can be no doubt that the shooting of the movie was anything but routine, the end result is a stirring affair that I greatly enjoy.  I should note a few things just so that we're clear, however, for I may be a bit biased:

1) Michael Crichton is one of my favorite authors. 
2) Antonio Banderas is one of my favorite actors.
3) I'm a sucker for movies like this. 

Having said all that, I still think that The 13th Warrior is a nifty film with a number of worthy performances and several exciting setpieces to go along with a gripping plot.  I've been down with Banderas since Desperado and this is one of his most entertaining roles.  He is surrounded by other talented actors who also nail their roles, most notably Vladimir Kulich as Buliwyf and Dennis Storhoi as Herger.  As far as adapting Crichton's neat little take on Beowulf is concerned, this is one of the more faithful efforts to bring this legendary author's work to the big screen that I have seen.  Bonus points: Eaters of the Dead was one of his coolest books.  The 13th Warrior is the story of an exiled Arab who must join forces with a band of rugged northmen as they embark on a journey to lend a besieged kingdom aid from a fearsome menace.  As such, it is packed with action, suspense, and intrigue.  The characters are likable, the enemies are gruesome, and The 13th Warrior races along at a brisk pace.  There's some quality gore in the mix and the realistic yet entertaining approach to the various battles presented throughout is highly effective.  I have read a great many reviews where critics ruthlessly trashed this picture, and I can't help but note that most of those reviews were more interested in the reshoots with Michael Crichton at the helm as opposed to director John McTiernan and the amount of time the film spent on the shelf prior to being released in 1999.  Don't be dissuaded by these critiques, as the movie's complicated making won't impact your ability to enjoy it.  Those who sit down to watch The 13th Warrior are rewarded with a riveting action flick featuring a hardened crew of robust heroes banding together against a most diabolical foe.  What's not to love?

Final Grade: B+
I'm a big fan of Antonio Banderas and I think it's very possible that
The 13th Warrior is the best film that he has starred in.

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