13 Minutes


Reviewed by: Jane Fae

13 Minutes
"13 Minutes is a sort of Casualty with tornadoes. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that." | Photo: Signature Entertainment

“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue!” says Airplane’s beleaguered Steve McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges) as a series of increasingly ridiculous personal challenges are heaped, one after another, onto the growing catalogue of disasters in the air. But then, that’s the way of disaster movies. And would you want it any different?

As Airplane, so 13 minutes, whose varied ensemble cast could be introduced, one by one, in much the same vein. Looks like I picked the wrong week to…

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...sink all of my savings in a new property…

...get pregnant…

...tell my parents i’m gay.

The last seems a particularly bad piece of timing, as finally out of the closet Luke (WIll Peltz) confesses all to his God-fearing, upright and almost certainly Republican parents approximately three minutes before the tornado hits. Way to go, kid!

With stories that alternate between heart-warming and tragic in equal measure - and sometimes a bit of both - 13 Minutes is a sort of Casualty with tornadoes. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The focus is on four families, with a pretty standard line-up of heroes and villains out on manoeuvres.

The less than gay-positive parents. The emergency response co-ordinator with a deaf daughter. The young teen who just found out she is pregnant - and the evil clinic which claims to offer abortions but appears to be run by a branch of the local anti-abortion campaign. The immigrant with a heart of gold...

All human life is here, as, too, is a pretty decent cast: in addition to Peltz, 13 Minutes offers us Trace Adkins, Thora Birch, Peter Facinelli, Anne Heche, Paz Vega and Davi Santos.

So it’s basically a feature length soap. Yes.

And no.

It is certainly that...but it is also a pretty decent first outing for director and co-writer Lindsay Gossling (the other writer and provider of the original story is Travis Farncombe). I enjoyed it greatly. But then, I like Casualty and I like disaster movies.

Also, I don’t think I've seen a real tornado disaster movie before. Plenty of plane disasters. Collapsing office blocks - Paul Newman doing heroics in Towering Inferno and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson doing it all over again in Skyscraper. Oh: and in San Andreas, which seems to have done so well that they are now making a sequel.

Volcanoes: Dante’s Peak and Volcano. Not forgetting Airplane vs Volcano, which somehow manages to combine air disaster and eruptions.

But tornadoes? Not really - unless you count The Wizard Of Oz - and even though i am sure the experience was hyped for dramatic effect I feel I have learnt something. Because the 13 minutes at the centre of this film...the minutes when disaster finally strikes were truly chilling. That, I told myself afterward, is some shadow of what a tornado is like. Now I know why tornadoes are so feared and respected in those parts of the world where they happen.

In the end, 13 minutes is a bit cheesy, a bit predictable, a bit sensationalised. On the other hand, if you like cheesy, sensational, predictable disaster, then you will probably enjoy it. I did.

Reviewed on: 27 Oct 2021
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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.

Director: Lindsay Gossling

Writer: Travis Farncombe, Lindsay Gossling, Lindsay Gossling

Starring: Thora Birch, Sofia Vassilieva, Amy Smart, Anne Heche, Paz Vega, Laura Spencer, Peter Facinelli, Trace Adkins, Will Peltz, Yancey Arias, Gabriel Jarret, Shaylee Mansfield, Tokala Black Elk, Davi Santos, James Austin Kerr

Year: 2021

Runtime: 108 minutes

Country: Canada, US


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