The Culture Movies

'13 Minutes' has tantalizing story but workmanlike execution

The film, about the failed 1939 attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in Munich, Germany, while he was delivering an address to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, is a straightforward thriller that never rises above the dutiful.

Christian Friedel as Georg Elser in '13 Minutes'.
Courtesy of Bernd Schuller/Sony Pictures Classics
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  • Peter Rainer
    Film critic

The failed 1939 attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in Munich, Germany, while he was delivering an address to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party is the centerpiece of Oliver Hirschbiegel’s “13 Minutes,” a straightforward thriller that never rises above the dutiful.

Christian Friedel plays Georg Elser, an Alpine village boy and pacifist who becomes increasingly enraged by the Nazis and singlehandedly plants his explosives in retaliation. Hitler, of course, escaped, but there were numerous fatalities. The “what if?” aspects of this true-life drama are so tantalizing that the movie’s workmanlike execution is doubly dissatisfying. Grade: C+ (Rated R for disturbing violence and some sexuality.)