XIII isn’t really SF, unless you argue that it is set in some alternate universe in which the President of the United States is a sexier version of Sarah Palin.

However action movie fans will appreciate the NBC mini-series XIII that will air on February 8th and 15th from 9-11 p.m.

Based on a cult French graphic novel published in 1984, which in turn inspired a popular video game of the same name, it stars Stephen Dorff (Blade) and Val Kilmer (Batman Forever).

Incidentally our sexier Sarah Palin doesn’t get to be U.S. president for long. In the first few frames of the series she is assassinated whilst giving her Veterans Day speech. Three months later, with the case still unsolved, a young man (Stephen Dorff) is found unconscious in the woods. Suffering from amnesia he discovers a tattoo on his chest of the Roman numeral XIII, a photograph and a computer chip, which seem to be his only clues to his past. He soon realizes he’s an army man, trained for covert operations and finds himself on the run - not only from government agents and the police, but also from the determined mercenary The Mongoose (Val Kilmer), and his men. The young man known as, XIII, learns he is being accused of assassinating the President and attempts to stay alive, uncover the real conspirators, and discover his true identity.

Dorff is all competent action hero mode and never breaks a sweat. Kilmer – turning fifty this year! – only makes the occasional appearance as a villain. (Remember when he used to be cast as the hero?) Making a welcome cameo is the sexy Caterina Murino, fresh from her debut in Casino Royale as “the other Bond girl.” Along for the ride as sidekick is Lucinda Davis, who – speaking of sidekicks – would make a brilliant Agent 355 in any movie version of Brian K. Vaughn’s Y: The Last Man graphic novel (one is planned with Shia LaBeouf).

The plot is all very Bourne Identity and plot holes abound. It also occasionally veers into the ridiculous (are those tattoos really such a good idea?), but we nonetheless found XIII to be a diverting action thriller, just the sort of thing we tune into to forget about bills that must be paid, our asshole bosses and so on. Check it out.



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