Or, since it’s a French film, Banlieu 13: Ultimatum, if you prefer. This is a follow-up to 2004’s District 13, in which the two leads, a cop, Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli) and a small-time crook, Leito (David Belle), put aside their differences and work together to prevent a dirty bomb from being launched in the eponymous district, which is a dystopian ghetto, walled-off from ‘civilized’ Paris and left to become a mire of crime-controlled poverty. At the end of the film, promises are made that the wall will come down and the district will be re-integrated into wider society.
So (surprise, surprise), at the beginning of this film, nothing much has changed. If anything, the crime is worse, with the gangs fractured along ethnic lines into armed camps led by ‘warlords’. The Defence chief and head of a special crime unit corruptly conspire with a building firm (rather obviously named “Harriburton”) to manufacture a crisis in District 13 so that they can justify utterly destroying it and offering the real estate for luxury development. It is up to Damien and Leito, now friends, to come together again and save the day.
The first film was good, brainless fun, a thrill-ride of magnificent chase scenes, loosely held together by a pretty silly premise and plot. The leads players in this film are acclaimed stunt-men, leading lights in the world of ‘parkour’ and, if you see a film in which a chase scene involves incredible and adrenaline-boosting bouncing up, down and over buildings, chances are that one or both of them are involved, since there are not many people who can do this. Luc Besson wrote or co-wrote both films, which is not a recommendation for depth, since Besson is really only good for flashy fun films. Unfortunately, this follow-up film seems to be trying to make a more ‘political’ point and it is pretty damn clunky when it does so.
There are still some fantastic chase scenes and some wonderfully choreographed fight scenes, even if they’re no more realistic than the fight scenes from The Matrix. The problem is that everything between the fighting and chasing is boring, lucicrous or both – and there isn’t enough fighting and chasing to keep your mind off the dull absurdities of the plot.
I’d recommend watching the first but skip this one – it adds nothing.