District 13: Ultimatum Seeks the International Xbox Demo


Less a sequel than a remake of the exhilarating 2006 action flick that introduced parkour, the French run-and-jump urban obstacle sport, to American audiences, District 13: Ultimatum works only when at full sprint. In the rotting, riot-prone, walled-off banlieues of near-future Paris, David Belle returns as the endlessly inventive ghetto acrobat—vaulting out windows, leaping from roof to roof, turning the act of evasion into a form of courage—and he teams up again with equally idealistic policeman Cyril Raffaelli, who prefers to stand and fight, confronting drug dealers and corrupt politicians directly. Unfortunately, the government bad guys aren’t too colorful in producer Luc Besson’s script, directed by Patrick Alessandrin (the first D13‘s director, Pierre Morel, graduated to Taken and the above John Travolta vehicle—both also produced by Besson). A rogue government security agency and evil corporation—called, get ready for it, Harriburton—are conspiring to bomb the banlieues and develop the rubble as luxury condos. “It creates jobs,” the villain tells the Sarkozy-style president. “We rebuild a neighborhood for the middle-classes, who’ll vote for you next time.” Besson explains the plot three times more than necessary, using flashbacks and a Rodney King–style cop video to underscore how government has failed (and quarantined) the poor. Their champions, Belle and Raffaelli, aren’t given enough stunts to enliven the talky intrigue, which is curious for a movie supposedly aimed at the international Xbox demo.