Not good, not bad either really. A 1990s sci-fi movie which is exploiting a theme that could still be represented today.
I watched the Thirteenth Floor with no expectations and I was not in the mindset to want to meditate on hidden clues to figure out the end and solve the mystery by myself. Well as a matter of fact, everything is so evident in this film that you don’t really have to focus hard on it to understand what it’s all about. Too many allusions bring you to the conclusion that the world of the main character is a simulation like the one the company he works for created. That’s too bad… They insisted way too much on the deja vu impression.
Virtual world for real satisfaction
Anyway, I thought interesting to watch The Thirteenth Floor nowadays since we have a different vision of virtual reality. The idea of the film which is directly taken from the book Simulacron-3 is original. I liked the idea of the letter, and how each character took it regarding its own world. It definitely shows how much we are focused on our own little world and how it can burst into pieces very quickly. The virtual world is also a way for human perversions to be satisfied: sex for Fuller, murder for David. It allows the characters to do what they can’t in their own world, which is a use often pointed out in fictions using virtual reality keeping in mind the human race is perverted but constrained by the laws.
However, you cannot conclude that the movie is not original because it’s using many recurrent science-fiction themes, only because the movie is from 1999 and it’s hard to judge the creativity of a story 17 years later.
The almighty technology
The Roland Emmerich’s production is easy to watch compared to other Sci-Fi movies from the same period because it did not use many visual effects. The story is even more topical than it was in 1999, but was probably surfing on a big wave back then with the emergence of science computing and the Internet. After all, the book was written in 1964, so I guess we’re not inventing new things today, just making old thoughts possible. That’s another point. Each world was able to create a simulation thanks to its more evolved technology. This asks the question of the real limitations of technology, what we are able to do with it and whether we are really at the origin of a concept or if we are just replicating something that has already been done without us being aware of it.
In the end, the film is another way to represent the human race playing God. They create a lesser world just because they can do it. There is no real point to it in the film. Or at least it has not been exposed explicitly.
Travel through another decade
I will finish by saying that the Thirteenth Floor has this 1990’s typical brand optimism in the end. Indeed, no matter how they managed to do it, the bad is vanquished in many ways and the good always triumphs. A last note out of the blue, if you haven’t watched this film there is a satisfying bonus: the fabulous haircut of Vincent D’Onofrio!