Unlucky Thirteen

A disappointing thriller lacking in both plot and performance.

Ahmed Ibn Fadlan (Banderas) is a court poet and writer of noble birth. A monolith of the literary achievements of the Baghdad Caliphate, his only crime takes place when he casts his eyes upon the wrong woman and falls prey to the vices of his profession. For this, he is forever banished from his land and sent out as an ambassador to the north. After a brief journey he comes upon a wayward group of Vikings who have come far from their homeland on campaign. Revolted by their brutality and astounded by their lack of table manners, he is forcefully initiated into their group through the vague prophecy of a local witchdoctor.

The prophecy seeks to remedy a great evil in the Northern homeland, where a powerful force threatens to overpower the very roots of the Nordic kingdom. Thus, thirteen warriors are deemed worthy to be sent into battle and Ahmed's fate becomes closely wound with that of his newfound companions.

On arrival, he realises the immensity of the problem and helps his fellow warriors to fend off a savage group of killers who have plagued the countryside and pillaged the neighboring villages.

Based upon the spine-chilling novel "Eaters of the Dead" by Michael Crichton, "The 13th Warrior" is a popular Hollywood adaptation of powerful fiction that drives you to the edge of your seat. With the exception of a few scenes, the entire movie is a filmed battle sequence of cinematic proportions that sends your popcorn flying and your heart pounding. Fields of grey mist characterize most of the backdrops and the music score sets the stage for the sinister characters that swarm the mythical battlefields of lore.

As cliched as it may appear, the movie holds no real plot or dimension and seems to dwell upon the barbarism of ancient warfare. With the exception of Banderas' muddled Arabic/Spanish accent, most of the actors simply play out their character profiles uniformly and there is no twist that drastically impairs the plot. The rest of the actors hold no real position of relevance and their parts are played out as minute segments of the whole saga.

This article was first published on 18 Apr 2001.