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13 Minutes is a different breed of disaster movie. Unlike Twister or Into the Storm, it focuses more on the characters of a small town in the midwest and the problems that (dis)connect them from each other.

The largest tornado on record threatens to ravage a small town, leaving residents with only 13 minutes to find shelter, search for loved ones and fight for their lives. We get to know four families who are all dealing with their own issues. The son of a religious, racist father and a pro-life mother (played by Anne Heche in a leather vest), has trouble with coming out to his parents. The boy he’s been seeing is the son of a Hispanic couple of which the father is undocumented. His mother (a standout performance by Paz Vega) works in the local motel as a cleaner, ready to finally buy a place for her family.

It’s not all social commentary, but it’s pretty clear director Lindsay Gossling and co-writer Travis Farncombe wanted to discuss some problematic themes within the USA that unfortunately still need to be addressed. I wish this wasn’t used so much as shock value, as there’s no real payoff for any of the negative and rather harsh things that are being said in this movie. One of the more enjoyable parts of 13 Minutes, is young actor Shaylee Mansfield, who plays the deaf daughter of a weather reporter (Peter FacinelliThe Twilight Saga) and a crisis centre leader (Amy SmartMirrors). She gives an innocent and nuanced performance that counterbalances all the heavy social commentary.

13 Minutes is definitely something that’s easy to watch and uses the tornado as an element to sort of give us a breather from the real life issues. Things pick up right after, and you’d expect some character development that would’ve come from the negativity that plays in the first half, but sadly there is hardly any. From a technical perspective, the editing bothered me the most. There’s weird cuts that look as if we jump seconds ahead. The movie promotes itself “from the VFX studio that worked on Everest and Deepwater Horizon“, which is impressive, but besides the wide shots of the tornado there’s some pretty cheap looking visual effects. Luckily these don’t ruin the movie as it only goes on for a couple of minutes.

13 Minutes isn’t your run-of-the-mill disaster movie, but also can’t decide how far it wants to spin these real life issues to make it memorable. A more than agreeable yet forgettable drama.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Signature Entertainment presents 13 Minutes on Digital Platforms 1st November and DVD 17th January.

Reviewed October 20, 2021 (screener provided by Signature Entertainment). Rating: Cert12. Running time: 109 min. 

PRODUCTION: A Signature Entertainment release of an Elevated Films and Involving Pictures production. Producers: Travis Farncombe, Lindsay Gossling & Karen Harnish. Executive Producers: Cassian Elwes, Arianne Fraser, Jere Hausfater, Delphine Perrier & Henry Winterstern.

CREW: Director: Lindsay Gossling. Writers: Lindsay Gossling & Travis Farncombe. Editing: Lisa Grootenboer. Cinematography: Steve Mason. Music: Ariel Marx.

CAST: Thora Birch, Amy Smart, Anne Heche, Paz Vega, Sofia Vassilieva, Laura Spencer, Peter Facinelli, Trace Adkins, Will Peltz, Shaylee Mansfield.

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