13th Warrior, The

Stars:  Antonio Banderas

Hooray – the Vikings are back. No, not the sports team, those guys from way up north, the ones with the swords and funny looking boats.

Based upon Michael Crichton’s “Eaters of the Dead”, “The 13th Warrior” is a rollicking good action flick as well as an intelligent one, filled with wonderful myth and mysticism.

Antonio Banderas plays Ahmed, a Middle Eastern poet who has been banished from his homeland because he fooled around with the wrong lady. He is named ambassador to a far off land up north – a Viking land – as far away from the lady as is possible.

Almost as soon as he arrives in the new land, he is called upon to help an elite group of warriors vanquish enemies even further up north from a vicious group of “monsters”. Are they men or are they beasts?

There is a marvelous and imaginative sequence whereby Ahmed, who doesn’t speak the Viking language, comes to understand what they’re saying and is able to speak their language to the surprise of them all. Well played, indeed because up till then, the audience is as lost as Ahmed as to what they’re jabbering about. A simple but effective technique from director John McTiernan.

But Ahmed is not a fighter; he was chosen for the mission because the 13th warrior needed to be an outsider. More and more, Ahmed, through his own particular skills, becomes accepted by the troupe; plus, they know they need him.

These Vikings are formidable and very smart warriors which is what helps make this film a step above your more common actioners.

The story, the acting, and the characters are all quite good as are the direction and the scenery. I was very impressed overall.

Omar Sharif makes a small appearance in the film’s earlier sequences and although I did not recognize any of the other actors by name, I found all of them up to the task of playing superior Vikings!

Lotta says this is smart filmmaking.