The Thirteenth Warrior

The Boston Phoenix

DIRECTED BY: John McTiernan

REVIEWED: 09-07-99

In John McTiernan's 1990 film adaptation of Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October, the director avoided subtitles by simply having his Russians slip into English. The same trick works in this adaptation of the Michael Crichton bestseller Eaters of the Dead, where everyone considerately falls into English when 10th-century Vikings meet up with Arab emissary Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan (Antonio Banderas), a wayward poet forced into ambassadorship. Exiled from his homeland for an indiscretion with an influential statesman's wife, and accompanied by his manservant Melchisidek (Omar Sharif), Ahmed is seized by Viking warriors who determine that he is the non-Viking "13th warrior" whose help they need against a mysterious flash-eating enemy that the elderly King Hrothgar (Sven Wollter) and his young wife, Queen Weilaw (Diane Venora), are battling back home. The mighty Norsemen poke mead-hall fun at their ally when he proves too weak to wield a broadsword; but Banderas, charismatic as ever, turns out to be pretty kick-ass (as we knew from Zorro), and this literate entertainment -- it's a loose retelling of Beowulf -- turns out to be a pleasing actioner.

--Tom Meek

Full Length Reviews
The Thirteenth Warrior

Capsule Reviews
The Thirteenth Warrior

Other Films by John McTiernan
Die Hard With a Vengeance
The Thomas Crown Affair

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