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District 13 - Review

District 13

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

IT MAY boast a super-silly premise but District 13 offers an exhilarating ride for action junkies thanks to its breathtaking mix of Ong Bak-style fighting and Le Parkour-inspired stunts.

Le Parkour is, of course, an extreme sport involving building-to-building leaping, wall scaling and rooftop running without the need for safety nets or wires that merely serves to make the film’s stunts appear more authentic.

Plot-wise, this Luc Besson-scripted vehicle reads like an Escape From New York rip-off.

District 13 is a slum on the outskirts of Paris in 2013. When the leader of one of its most powerful gangs steals a government missile, elite officer Damien (Cyril Raffaelli), an expert in martial arts, teams up with wrongly-imprisoned former ghetto rebel Leito (David Belle) to retrieve it and the latter’s kidnapped sister.

The ensuing 85 minutes provides viewers with a pulsating no-brainer that thrills on a visual level without ever taxing the brain.

The opening 20 minutes in particular provide two extended action sequences that really set pulses racing, breathlessly showcasing the physical expertise of both Belle and Raffaelli.

But while they provide an engaging presence, their characters lack any real depth, while the villains they’re up against are played hideously over the top.

Having dazzled with two such amazing action sequences early on, director Pierre Morel also has trouble maintaining the momentum and some of the later confrontations struggle to leave as lasting an impression.

What could have become a potential classic in action terms ends up drawing to a close with something of a whimper.

That said, there’s still plenty to keep the die-hard adrenaline junkies suitably impressed.

(In French with subtitles)

Certificate: 15
Running time: 85 mins