The plot: Bewildered young man stumbles into a tense game of chance when he impetuously steals a dead man's invitation.
I really liked the original French movie, though I found it to be a little pretentious. The American remake excises all of the art house elements in favor of big name actors, a curiously extended back story for Mickey Rourke's character, and some really bizarre (but awesome) acting from Michael Shannon. The original French version was also a bit more bleak and nihilist, which I think was watered down for American version. Despite this, I've seen several people complain that this movie was too bleak and nihilist! Wow. I guess some people were expecting a traditional, by-the-numbers thriller with car chases and shoot-outs rather than a pensive, darker drama. Unfortunately, a lot of the tension was also streamlined out this version, though I might be misjudging because I already knew the plot. Still, the brutality and nihilism of the original, made all the starker by the black and white stock, really stuck with me, and I didn't feel as though I had quite the same experience when watching the remake.
I'm not one of those snobs who thinks that the original movie is always better than the remake, but, in this case, I think it's true. If I hadn't seen the original and liked it so much, I'd probably rate this a bit higher. Judged on its own merits, I think this is an enjoyable movie, but it doesn't live up to the original. For a movie billed as a thriller, it's lacking the tension that audiences expect, and, as a Jason Statham movie, it's lacking in Jason Statham scenes, which audiences will also expect. Despite my criticism and lukewarm rating, I still liked 13, and I'd probably recommend it to people who haven't seen the original. However, I'd highly recommend you see the original, instead. It's a better movie.