Natural disaster movies are familiar and comfortable. When I say comfortable I mean the formula for the plot is fairly simple. There’s a big disaster on the horizon, and we are introduced to a group of people who are facing the challenge of surviving the disaster. Are we rooting for them or hoping mother nature KOs them? It depends on the formula. There have been countless re-writes of this formula, some met with success and others with cringe-worthy failure. But 13 Minutes takes this ‘formula’ and completely reworks it. The end result is a gripping story that takes a long look at some of the best (and worst) parts of humanity. 

13 Minutes begins with a new day in the small town of Minninnewah. The residents go about their morning routines as information on an impending tornado is relayed. The citizens of Minninnewah remain relatively unconcerned as this isn’t their first ‘torna-rodeo.’ When it seems the day will end just as it had began, Mother Nature decides it’s her time to shine and unleashes the biggest storm of the century. Residents of this tiny town are left with just 13 Minutes to find shelter before the tornado wreaks havoc on anything left in its path. 

13 Minutes boasts a meaty plot with several layers. Sure there’s a storm coming, but it’s the storm of human conflict that makes this film interesting. Writer-director Lindsay Gossling did an outstanding job developing characters with depth. In one moment they may be the story’s villain, only to become a hero moments later. This non-binary approach to good and evil more closely represents the human psyche. Gossling tells an honest tale about people. They may not be all good, but are they all bad? It’s an uncomfortable question to ask but Gossling does it fearlessly, and successfully. 

Gossling’s story would not have come to life as it did without the help of such a strong ensemble of performers. The entire cast played their respective characters with integrity and admirable ease. Thora Birch and Sofia Vassilieva have delightful onscreen chemistry as mother-daughter duo Jess and Maddy. They share several heart-warming moments that stick with you throughout the film. Trace Adkins and Anne Heche also share a connection that makes them an onscreen dynamic duo. My favorite performance in 13 Minutes goes to Paz Vega as Ana. Vega is sensitive, strong, and unceasingly kind in a world that has decided to treat her as a second-class citizen. Audiences will fervently root for Ana and find comfort in her triumph thanks to Vega. 

13 Minutes is more than just a natural-disaster-survival flick. It’s a tale about humanity: the good, the bad, and the ugly. It drives home the message that we all need to shelter and care for each other. And if we are able to do that, we might just survive the storm we live in today. Hats off to Gossling for making a movie that matters… and that has some pretty cool disaster sequences. You can find 13 Minutes in select theaters and VOD platforms on October 29. 

 

8 out of 10

 

13 Minutes
RATING: PG13
Runtime: 1hr. 44 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By:

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