Banlieue 13: Ultimatum [aka District 13: Ultimatum] (2009)

(On DVD, July 2010) As a follow-up to the first Banlieue 13, this sequel does the expected: Bring back the lead characters to do the same things again in a slightly bigger context, while avoiding messing too much with the formula.  It works decently: David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli are just as great as the action heroes of the sequel, and while there’s a little less parkour this time around, the mix is still heavy in good action sequences.  Between a martial arts demonstration in which a Van Gogh painting is used (Jackie Chan-style) as a weapon, a chase sequence in which a character makes his way down from a tall building complex, or a video-game-inspired fight featuring the captivating Elodie Yung, Banlieue 13: Ultimatum delivers as an action movie.  Director Patrick Alessandrin keeps control of the mixture, and the budget of the piece only shows its limits in a regrettable decision not to show some of the ending explosions.  While Luc Besson’s script is its usual mix of ham-fisted populism, sexy misogyny and thin rationales, there’s something intriguing in the way it sets up a multicultural union of interest against staid reactionary “Harriburton” capitalism.  There may not be a whole lot of substance to this film, but it’s got its pulse on significant Parisian social issues.  Anyone who liked the first film will feel just as satisfied with the sequel. The Region-1 DVD comes complete with a short but enlightening making-of documentary that highlights most of the film’s high action points, and appears to reflect the fun that everyone had in making the picture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *