Thursday, December 9, 2010

Banlieue 13 - Ultimatum [District 13: Ultimatum] Review

The Plot:
District 13: Ultimatum reunites the lead actors from 2004's District B13 in another parkour based action flick to prevent the French government from annihilating the Parisian ghettos. Patrick Alessandrin steps in to replace Pierre Morel who has moved on to bigger budget Hollywood productions (Taken, From Paris with Love).

The Good:
- The action scenes are compelling enough to carry the viewers attention. Inspired by the martial art of parkour (or free running), the characters literally jump off buildings and run up walls. The grace and athleticism involved in the art and stunt work (also seen in movies like Casino Royale, Live Free or Die Hard and The Bourne Ultimatum) is absolutely astounding.
- The lead actors, David Belle (the creator of parkour) and Cyril Raffaelli (a poor man's Jason Stahthem), are appealing enough to carry the non-action scenes.

The Bad:
- The plot is some sort of ridiculous nonsense involving a variety of ethnic gangs uniting to, more or less, stage a coup.
- The supporting performances are lacking, at best.
- The editing and lensing of the actions scenes is a step down from those of the original. Morel had a better feel than Alessandrin for when to move the camera or cut during one of the action scenes without taking away from the impressive stunt work.

The Verdict:
- If you have any interest in parkour, martial arts or top flight stunt work, the movie is worth seeing. Less so if you need a competent plot or performances to enjoy a movie.
- A worthy, but inferior, successor to District B13.

Overall Score: 6/10

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