STARRING: Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle,
Philippe Torreton, Daniel Duval, Elodie Yung
2009, 101 Minutes, Directed by: Patrick Alessandrin
District 13: Ultimatum has nothing to do with the recent Neil Blomkamp movie
District 9 in which alien “prawns” make the mistake of seeking asylum on Planet
It is instead a somewhat belated sequel to a 2004 French movie
titled District B13 which was produced by Luc Besson (Big Blue, Leon) set in a near future Paris in which the social
and criminal underclasses are walled off in an area known as District B13 – the
city planners no doubt having seen Escape from New York one time too many . . .
By the end of the first movie France’s politicians have promised to break down
the wall around District B13, but we all know how much politicians’ promises are
worth. Three years later the wall around the district is still there and things
are as bad as ever. A corrupt faction in the government however wants to get rid
of the district permanently – an area which is ruled by gang lords and which the
police are too afraid to enter – but for all the wrong reasons.
Some shady real estate property types named Harriburton (ho, ho) wants to
gentrify the area – that is, forcibly evict the area’s underclass inhabitants
and then build some high-rises for yuppies. District 13B is apparently a prime
piece of real estate and location as we know is everything after all. So the
corrupt government officials fake an incident in which some innocent street cops
are “massacred” by a Nigerian street gang.
Soon pressure is on the French president to demolish District
B13 by bombing it
from the air (a bit extreme – but one supposes that they are really afraid to
enter the area). Only problem (for the conspirators) is that the two heroes from
the previous movie - Damien and Leito (David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli) – have
evidence to, er, blow the whole plot sky high. Soon every cop in Paris are hot
on their trail . . .
"Regularly jumps the shark . . . with glee!"
The plot isn’t however what District 13: Ultimatum is all about. You may think
that the film wants to make some sort of comment of the social and class
divisions in multiethnic modern French society, but you’d be wrong. (Goofy
scenes in which the five gang lords that rule District B13 get all chummy with
the French president has to be seen to be believed!)
District 13: Ultimatum is
exactly the sort of thing that Jason Statham makes now that he has taken over from Jean
Claude van Damme and Steven Seagal as the king of straight-to-DVD action movie
It’s all about the action
scenes and while one sequence in which the impossibly agile David Belle jumps
from rooftop to rooftop and clambers up walls isn’t as impressive as it as in
the first movie, there are still lots of over-the-top action in the film.
We particularly liked a scene
in which one of the heroes takes a leaf from the Jackie Chan action scene book
and uses a priceless Van Gogh painting to beat up some bad guys – all without
getting a single scratch on it! The movie regularly jumps the shark with glee,
but it also unfortunately loses steam halfway through and the ending is about as
anticlimactic as a block party.
Ultimately District 13: Ultimatum is exactly the sort of energetic, brainless actioner that will go down better as a DVD rental than on the big screen. Not as
good or fresh as the first movie, but a fun outing if you’re willing to excuse
the inane dialogue and storyline, not to mention the movie’s doofus sense of