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The Thirteenth Warrior

Rated R for violence
Starring Antonio Banderas, Omar Sharif, Diane Venora and Dennis Storhoi

CineSight Rating *

In the city of Constantinople, at the heart of the Byzantine empire, poet and playboy Eben (Banderas) falls in love. Unfortunately, the lady in question is married, and her husband arranges for Eben to be exiled to the furthest corner of Europe. There he unwillingly joins up with a band of twelve Norse warriors, who are on a mission.

They are travelling to a settlement that has been under attack by some mysterious 'creatures'. The warrior band begins fortifying the village in preparation for the next attack, which comes along with the nighttime mist. The attackers turn out to be a host of ruthless vandals clad in bear skins. After repelling the invaders at great cost, Eben and company track them back to their cave lair. They infiltrate deep into the heart of the cavern to kill the vandal queen, and escape just in time to face another attack by the vengeful vandals. After killing the vandal leader, the invaders lose heart and give up, sloping off back into the mist whence they came. Eben and his hearty blond companions bind up their wounds, bury their dead and toast each other's health before the credits roll.

You may be able to tell I'm not a great fan of THE THIRTEENTH WARRIOR. Actually, I think it was probably one of the worst movies of the year an embarrassment for Banderas and director John McTiernan (THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR). Based on Michael Crichton's novel "Eaters of the Dead", the screenplay is flat and uninspired, devoid of character development or excitement. The performances are uniformly bland, perhaps due to the lack of script, and the camera work seems most undisciplined. I found myself wondering whether I had spent more time watching this movie than McTiernan ever did directing it. It certainly felt that way.