Watched Jul 07, 2012
Steve Grzesiak’s review:
I've always been of the opinion that films are taking a pretty huge risk by having a spectacular credits sequence, because you really do not want that to be the best part or centrepiece of your film. District 13 very nearly falls into that trap, but just about pulls itself back from the precipice.
Only just, though. Starting with said incredible sequence, it then very quickly pulls off a fantastic chase and action scene as parkour legend turned actor David Belle is chased around and out of his block by the minions of a drug lord that he stole some drugs off - only to wash them down the plughole simply because he wants to rid his estate of them.
Said estate is a walled-off community in Paris that has been created to house what are widely regarded as the dregs of society, but when a missile is hijacked and ends up in the 'ghetto', Belle is tasked to find it and disarm it with a hotshot police captain (Cyril Raffaelli) after being 'sprung' from jail following the murder of a double-crossing cop.
It sounds like there is more plot behind District B13 than you might think there would be, and actually there is considering that it is basically a few elongated action scenes strung together with some less interesting stuff. It's not exactly on the level of Lost or anything, though, so it's not going to confound you, but it adds an extra layer to the film that it doesn't actually need.
What the film could have done with is less nonsense about government manipulation and more stuff with Belle jumping off things and Raffaelli kicking thugs. When they are doing this, this is a really entertaining little action film, beautifully stitched together during its most dynamic moments by Pierre Morel. Bibi Naceri isn't an especially engaging villain, and Dany Verissimo doesn't get much chance to shine as the requisite eye candy, so it really does get left to Belle and Raffaelli to carry the film.
Actually, they do it rather well even when they are required to act, even though that is clearly not their strongest suit. Two major action stars should have been born with this film, but seeing as though this was made 8 years ago now and we've seen very little of note from them since, it looks as though someone has missed a trick with them both.
Still, it's good fun even if it doesn't do enough with its Escape From New York idea, and a worthy modern action flick.