Judge Gordon Sullivan is usually asleep for the day by 2:13...pm.
Killers Are Not Born…They Are Made
If movies and TV are to be believed, being a profiler is the most dangerous job in America. From The Silence of the Lambs to Criminal Minds (and even Se7en), pop culture is telling us that chasing serial killers makes you a target. The boring truth is that serial killers tend to be either preferential killers (targeting young, blonde women for instance) or opportunity killers (taking out whomever they happen to meet on a given day). Targeting profilers just isn't on the menu for most of the murderous out there. But where would movies be if they stuck to things like truth or fact? Far away from 2:13, certainly, which is another in a long line of "hunting the hunter" serial killer films. Despite a few decent performances, 2:13 can't rise above a tepid mystery and a boatload of clichés.
Russell Spivey (Mark Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay) has just returned from a leave of absence for psychological issues. Even though he's still got a lingering alcohol and sleep problem, he's put back in the mix on the trail of a killer who keeps leaving masks and cryptic messages. This isn't just another day at the profiler office, however; these masks are reminiscent of Spivey's childhood, and the messages seem aimed squarely at him. Now he's got to catch the serial killer before he becomes the final target.
Maybe in 1989, 2:13 would have been an amazing film. Twenty-plus years ago, its mix of tired clichés might have seemed remotely fresh. The big ones are the psychologically damaged cop with a drinking problem (which, let's face it, was a tired idea long before '89), and the serial killer coming after the profiler. There are a few others tucked away (like the relationship between Spivey and his boss, and a grieving husband), but those two big ones are enough to keep 2:13 from succeeding.
Clichés, by themselves, aren't all bad; things usually become cliché because they work. It's reasonable to ask why the whole "targeting the profiler" story has worked elsewhere but fails here. For comparison, we can look at Criminal Minds, which despite being a recent show has gotten away with serial killers targeting profilers twice in the last six years. There are two reasons they get away with it while 2:13 does not. The first is rigorous plotting. Criminal Minds takes great care setting up the pathology of the serial killers, showing exactly how and why the profilers have become a target. 2:13 simply lacks that rigor. The film is set up as a kind of mystery, and based on the number characters, the killer is fairly obvious. However, his reasons are not particularly compelling, and the film's timeline isn't satisfying either. I don't want to give too much away by spoiling it, but the killer's reveal probably won't work for mystery fans.
The other way a show like Criminal Minds makes this plot work is by raising the stakes. Criminal Minds waited a season to introduce this kind of story, so viewers were invested in the characters. When they used the same idea again, they upped the ante and went for an even bigger emotional impact. However, 2:13 doesn't have nearly as much to work with. Spivey is not a particularly nice guy, he's obviously troubled, and there's nothing to make him particularly sympathetic. Sure his life is at stake, but it's hard to care for a character who doesn't care about himself.
In 2:13's defense, the film is generally well-acted. Screenwriter Mark Thompson must have written the role for himself, and he gives Spivey a good amount of energy, though he hardly brings anything new to the role of alcoholic cop. For a picture of this budget, the rest of the cast is impressive. Mark Pellegrino is dependable as a grieving husband, while Kevin Pollak is delightfully low-key as a doctor, and Dwight Yoakam is his usual creepy self.
On DVD, 2:13 has a decent anamorphic transfer that captures the slightly-processed look of the film well. Black levels are consistent throughout, and there are no serious compression problems to speak of. The 5.1 surround track sticks mainly to the center channel, but the surrounds come alive a bit during the film's more tense moments. The lone extra is a digital copy of the film included on the DVD, which is a shame. A commentary or interview with Thompson would have been a welcome addition to this disc.
It's a so-so serial killer flick that's hampered by its too-worn plot. Even the excellent cast can't raise this flick above "eh," and the lack of serious extras on the disc make it hard to recommend for anything other than a rental by fans of the serial killer genre.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
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