” height=”1″ width=”1″ />” appears to pick up where 2004’s “District B13” left off. Too bad I barely remember its lead characters.
Set in some sort of near-future France where ghettos resemble a post-apocalyptic war zone, the actioner follows a a couple of sleek, tattooed renegades (Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle) who represent the common man against The Man, who has turned the streets into something resembling a police state.
But let’s be frank: No one watched the first “D13″ for story, and no one will watch “D13-U” “ as the cool kids call it “ for story, either. The franchise exists to deliver one thing only: kick-ass parkour stunts. The opening of James Bond’s “Casino Royale” and that one recent episode of “The Office” were surface-scratchers compared to the lightning-speed athleticism the acrobatic actors exhibit here.
Watching “D13-U” is all about waiting for the next set piece, which come between too-long stretches of downtime. About halfway through, the flick really catches fire as one of our do-gooders attempts to elude authorities by scaling his apartment building, jumping from one roof to another, sliding down another structure, leaping here and there, and improvising along the way, whether with television antennas, hanging laundry or telephone lines.
And then, just as you’ve caught your breath, it turns into a car chase, albeit one where the pursued is on foot. That’s followed shortly by a stairway- and hallway-set tussle in a police station, as inventive as anything in the prime of Jackie Chan.
Adhering to everything writer/producer Luc Besson touches, director Patrick Alessandrin keeps the proceedings slick. It’s just a shame about the lags. In the extras, there’s more than a hour’s worth of behind-the-scenes material. “Rod Lott