Cyberpunk Review » The Thirteenth Floor

February 8, 2006

The Thirteenth Floor

Year: 1999

Directed by: Josef Rusnak

Written by: Daniel F. Galouye (book), Josef Rusnak & Ravel Centeno-Rodriguez (Screenplay)

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

Key Cast Members:

  • Douglas Hall/John Ferguson/David: Craig Bierko
  • Hannon Fuller/Grierson: Armin Mueller-Stahl
  • Jane Fuller/Natasha Molinaro: Gretchen Mol
  • Jason Whitney/Jerry Ashton: Vincent D’Onofrio
  • Rating: 8 out of 10


    Bad fucking trip??? No…These people are real…as real as you and me.


    Overview: The Thirteenth Floor is one of the truly fun virtual reality (VR) movies out that have been produced. This movie has everything from a fun film noir settings in a VR simulation, to pure mind fuck scenes, to great VR effects. The story catches you from the beginning and picks up speed as it goes. To top it off, Thirteenth Floor is loaded with style.




    The Thirteenth Floor centers on a small R&D software company (located, um, on the thirteenth floor of a large building) that has created a completely realistic similated world that has lifelike VR Sims. Corporate owner and computer scientist Hannon Fuller (played by Armin Mueller-Stahl) discovers a secret so important that he’s sure someone is trying to kill him. He hides a message for his protégé, Douglas Hall (played by Craig Bierko), inside of the 1930s game simulation. After Fuller is murdered, things get truly strange. His previously unknown daughter (Gretchen Moi) comes to claim the corporation in order to shut it down, and a Detective (Dennis Heysbert) investigating the murder becomes convinced that Hall is guilty. When Hall , with the help of the lead programmer (played wonderfully by Vincent D’Onofrio), enters the “game” by taking over the consciousness of one of the game sims, he eventually learns the earth-shaking secret. Unfortunately for Hall, one of the game sims has learned it as well, and is not happy about it. At this point, the Thirteenth Floor truly takes off.




    The Visuals: The Thirteenth Floor is loaded with high tech visuals in the “real” world and realistic film noir thirties visuals in the simulation. The modern visuals are sleek, with shocking neon greens, blues and reds interwoven into a dark blue-gray environment. Considering cyberpunk comes from a future-noir approach, I found the film noir add-on doubly appealing here.




    The Bottom Line: The Thirteenth Floor has a terrific cast and an interesting story that really does work for the most part. While only a few characters are given real depth, the story and effects are able to carry the show. The cinematography is truly terrific, with great use of shadows and interesting lighting contrasts. On top of this, the ending provides us with a very interesting and well done mind fuck that will stay with you for a few days. All in all, thirteenth floor also has some nice cyberpunk musings concerning the nature of reality, and whether or not we would really know if it we were actually a part of some game designer’s grand simulation.


    ~See movies similar to this one~

    Tags: cyberpunk movie review Thirteenth Floor

    This post has been filed under 8 Star Movies, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals, VR Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 1990 - 1999 by SFAM.


    February 11, 2006

    Tim said:

    This is a really underrated movie… nice review! I also really like erase/rewind by the Cardigans over the end credits…

    March 24, 2006

    Muad'dib said:

    BTW, has anyone read “Simulacron-3″? I’d love to, but I just can’t find a copy of it anywhere…out of print everywhere I look

    SFAM said:

    Hi Tim, thanks for the nice comments, and welcome to cyberpunkreview :)

    And yeah, Muad’dib, I’d like to read Simulacron-3 as well. There’s a bunch of used books dealers at Balticon (, a yearly scifi convention that comes to this area. I’ll dig around there.

    May 16, 2006

    Stormtrooper of Death said:

    Great movie. I saw this movie in 2001 and i really liked the story.

    SFAM said:

    Agreed - the way the mystery is revealed is well done. 13th Floor is definitely worth a watch.

    August 1, 2006

    Dr Smile said:

    The original 1964 novel SIMULACRON 3 is available for purchase in ebook format from:

    It was originally filmed as a two-part TV miniseries by German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1973.

    SFAM said:

    Awesome! Thanks for the posting Dr. Smile. You wouldn’t happen to have seen the TV miniseries, did you? If so, how was it?

    Muad'Dib said:

    I have it on VHS - it’s called “Welt am Draht” (World on a wire) and runs 3 1/2 hours. I wish I could find the novel somehwere, it’s a book that I’ve been searching for, for more than 5 years now…
    (Unfortunately I have my problems with ebooks - I just can’t read an entire novel on the monitor. )
    I can’t make any comparisons but the movie is great. I’m really not a fan of Fassbinder but this adaptation was excellent although I obviously can’t be certain how faithful it was to the book. Good acting, good atmosphere and a good story well known to anyone who saw “The Thirteenth Floor”.
    Unfortunately it is almost impossible to get a hold of, especially outside Germany. There are some DVD Bootlegs out there, but nothing official yet, but if you are somehow able to get it, I highly recommend it.

    SFAM said:

    DVD Bootleg it is then! I’ll start looking for it.

    […] The Thirteenth FloorYear: 1999 Directed by: Josef Rusnak Written by: Daniel F. Galouye (book),Josef Rusnak & Ravel Centeno-Rodriguez (Screenplay) IMDB ReferenceDegree of … […]

    February 14, 2008

    Bax said:

    I don’t get why so many critics hate it on rotten tomatoes.

    February 22, 2008

    Marc Mac said:

    A truly underrated film, unfairly beset by comparisons to THE MATRIX. It is not a rip-off of that film (for the simple fact that the novel it was based on was written in the 1960s!!), but a solid film that stands on its own.

    I actually bought an e-book copy of SIMULACRON 3 and started reading it. Very good book; granted, while a lot of the tech described inside is now pretty much obsolete, there are a few things that are suprisingly spot on, including the overabundance on pollsters and telemarketers (I kid you not!).

    Daniel F. Galouye is, sadly, a forgotten SF writer. I’ve seen a couple of his books in used bookstores but SIMULACRON 3 was the first I’ve read.

    March 6, 2008

    Urshanabi said:

    I just saw this movie today. It was excellent. Am I the only one who noticed that Hall’s apartment was strikingly similar to Deckard’s from [i]Blade Runner[/i]? They even used the exact same tile pattern.

    March 30, 2008

    sesostris said:

    Yes a very lovely movie, the real world creates virtual worlds for them to get lost in, even though they live right on the beach in perfect land. On man decides to become a criminal and instead of being supportive, his wifey knocks boots with his avatar in the hours he isnt playing the game.

    The blonde guy, his acting sux, i dont know what style of acting he is going for but he has annoying nailed.

    The hall guy just seemed clueless and dull, and mol was soul free as well. if it werent for the cop this dvd would make a lovely coaster.

    this movie would have totally rocked had it been spoken in farsi or something and had subtitles then we could have enjoyed it more, and the black room, useless green lights [hint hint] is getting very old.

    This movie did not intend to be good, its just part of predictive programming, and the creation of purpose built humans, digital slavery

    *kiss kiss*

    May 10, 2008

    Zeraphim said:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed the similarity to Deckard’s apartment. I just watched The Thirteenth Floor today and as soon as they got to Hall’s apartment I literally said out loud “What is this? Blade Runner?” All they would have to do is dim the lights and throw some junk about and it would be nearly identical. Maybe it’s a little homage? Who knows. Cool flick in any case.

    July 6, 2008

    Scott said:

    I believe Hall’s apartment is homage to BR … The music also alludes to Vangelis’ BR soundtrack … not so close as to be insulting though. I though it to be a pretty cool flick overall.

    December 26, 2008

    stn said:

    Great movie overall. I loved how the plot unfolded, in a very clever way.
    I can understand statements about the quality of the acting but I guess you have to take into consideration the complexity of the roles for each actor … ;)

    May 3, 2009

    robma said:

    Loosely speakin, it is a good sifi movie and worth watching.
    Are we real?
    This always is an eternal philosiphical problem.
    This movie gives a hypothesis.

    March 5, 2011

    Maniak12 said:

    I still have yet to see this movie. I really wanted to see it when it first came out, but its release was too close to the Matrix so I was kinda afraid of sitting through a ripoff. But still should of watched it none the less.

    May 6, 2011

    Kurgan said:

    Yes, it was good. Also, on German DVD ending song instead of Cardigans ”Erase/Rewind” was replaced by HIM ”Join Me In Death.” Video of it with movie clips was very nice.

    June 5, 2012

    tigrum said:

    you have created a cool website my man, another good movie i discovered from your list, this one f’d my mind. Thank you for your site, i like that you dont have to register to comment

    Leave a comment

    ~All Related Entries Related This~


    <<--Back to top

    Made with WordPress and the Semiologic CMS | Design by Mesoconcepts