Review: ’13 Minutes’

A Mediocre Tornado Disaster Film More Focused On Current Social, Economic, And Discriminatory Injustice

13 Minutes is a tornado disaster thriller who’s title indicates the time it takes to seek shelter for when they do occur. For residents in a small Heartland town of Oklahoma, the day starts out as usual. It’s springtime and big storms are just part of life. Nothing to get worked up about…until they are. Inhabitants will have to get to shelter in those 13 minutes before the largest tornado on record ravages their small town. Once the big storm passes, those that have survived will search for their loved ones. In the wake of total devastation, a couple of families face some tough challenges and must find strength in themselves and each other in order to survive.

Director Lindsey Gossling teams up with co-producer and certified storm chaser Travis Farncombe to give an intimate look at understanding the monstrosity of tornado damage and its effect on small town communities. Although it takes about an hour for the tornado storm to make its appearance as the film is more wrapped around the before and after circumstances of how these particular families are socially and economically impacted. The threat in this film may come from mother nature but the stories in 13 Minutes are grounded in the real world. Every creative element has been designed to drop directly into a time and place in an attempt to feel authentic. The idea behind this film is well intentioned but for featuring an all star cast, a bulk of emotions portrayed fell flat and felt staged. However, Shaylee Mansfield  (Netflix’s Feel the Beat, Noelle) is an incredibly talented young deaf actress who gives a solid performance throughout the film. She’s a well known YouTube influencer who initially caught the world’s attention when several of her videos went viral, garnering millions of hits.

13 Minutes is the time it takes to seek shelter whereas in this film, the tornado barrels through what feels like a brief few minutes. The film uses a tornado storm more as a backdrop and focuses on issues that are the real divide for these families in mid-western America. This tornado thriller features country music star and actor Trace Adkins (The Lincoln Lawyer, Deepwater Horizon) runs a farm and his wife, Emmy-award winning actress Anne Heche (Chicago P.D.Donnie Brasco, Six Days Seven Nights) works at the local planned parenthood clinic and uses her platform to push a Pro-Life stance. Both are a stickler for rules and deep into their religion and religious intolerance. Their only son (Will Peltz) (Unfriended, Manifest) considering his parents beliefs, is closet gay. 

Golden Globe and Emmy nominated actress Thora Birch (The Walking Dead, American Beauty) is a free but tough spirited mother to teenager and newly pregnant Sofia Vassilieva (The Little Things, My Sister’s Keeper, Looking For Alaska). They have a wonderful bond but also, their own opinion to their most recent news. Paz Vega (The OA Part I and Part II, Spanglish, Rambo: Last Blood) is a hardworking Hispanic woman who’s fiance is undocumented. They are in the process of buying their first home. Amy Smart (DC’s Stargirl, Varsity Blues, Just Friends) and Peter Facinelli (The Vanished, Nurse Jackie, Can’t Hardly Wait) are the town’s meteorologist couple and very committed to their jobs. They live in the upscale part of their rural Oklahoma town with their deaf daughter (Mansfield). These families are forced to cross paths as well as their own demons when the tornado wreaks havoc upon them. That instantaneous chaos will impact their lives in ways they never planned or expected before. A mediocre disaster film more focused on current social, economic, and discriminatory injustice but otherwise, a considerably decent film to watch.

13 Minutes will open in theaters and on premium VOD October 29th.