A good disaster movie is hard to come by, and while “13 Minutes” does not quite buck the trend, it deserves credit for at least attempting to be something unique. Rather than focusing on the actual disaster, “13 Minutes” goes for a thought-provoking character study that builds up to the disaster. Does it hit the mark? Not quite, but the effort should be applauded for attempting to stand out.
In its buildup, “13 Minutes” features some of the common small-town tropes; a pregnant teen, a closeted LGBTQ teen, and a couple going through a rough patch. It was almost shocking to watch this film devote so much time to character development, and that was unique for a movie in this genre. Unfortunately, the characters themselves felt like walking clichés that don’t really break out of their molds.
For as much as “13 Minutes” didn’t quite hit the mark, it does deserve props for one cool sequence in particular. There is a deaf child in the film, and during the tornado, we are put into her shoes as the sound cuts out. “Sound of Metal” and “CODA” both used this effect during scenes — not quite of this nature — and it was by far the most engaging part of the film.
But for as much as this film builds up to a tornado — over an hour of laying the groundwork — what is most anticlimactic about the film is how brief the actual disaster is. Imagine if “Avengers: Endgame” was the same two-hour-long buildup, but then had a final fight that lasted as long as the Avengers’ first meeting with Thanos in the film. It would be disappointing, no?
Look, I get going for something more nuanced than the dreadful “Into The Storm,” but there is also a fine line that marks how far audiences are willing to go in a film like this. “13 Minutes” spends about five times that just setting up for a disaster that is probably shorter than the title. Disaster movies feel like a thing of the past — at least good ones — and “13 Minutes” unfortunately doesn’t step up to the plate and deliver something good for fans of the genre.
“13 Minutes” will hit theaters on October 29.