Banlieue13[1]

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

This movie was written by Luc Besson and directed by Pierre Morrel. If those two names mean anything to you, then you already know whether or not you want to see this film. In fact, if those names mean anything to you, then you’ve probably already seen District 13.

But I hadn’t. I had heard about it–probably about the time that Casino Royale came out, and everybody was suddenly talking about parkour. I didn’t bother to find out anything about District 13, though, even to the point of watching it on streaming Netflix last night, so I had this notion in my head that it was merely going to be some sort of plotless parkour exhibition. On the contrary, this was a rather good movie.

Obviously dumb, but still, rather good.

It takes place in the distant future of 2010, at which point the Paris ghettos have gotten so bad that they’ve decided to wall in the worst districts and just abandon the inhabitants to the wolves. But when a powerful clean bomb is accidentally stolen by the drug lord running the district, the government is compelled to send somebody in to find it.

The way I’ve written that plot makes it sound stupider than it actually is, though at the point that one stops to actually think about the bomb plot, it does begin to break down pretty quickly. But it’s not actually very important–in fact, that plot only begins in the second act, after the audience has already been introduced to the two protagonists through individual sequences of bad-assery that, had the first act been a movie on its own, it would have still been pretty cool.

I liked this film, unreservedly. It wasn’t a masterpiece, obviously. It was intended to not be boring, and it never was. It’s in the vein of The Transporter and Taken, so understand, it will never slow down long enough for you to wonder why you’re still watching it. If you’re into parkour, then take that for a pleasant bonus.