Director Joe Wright switches gears from his solid Brit-lit adaptations (“Atonement,” “Pride and Prejudice“) and the ill-fated “The Soloist” and gives us a bit of Luc Besson (I hope less thin than “La Femme Nikita” and “The Professional”), a bit of fairy tale and “Kasper Hauser,” a probably coincidental resemblance to a certain aspect of “Kick-Ass,” a bit of Bourne, and, I hope, a bit of Le Carre, Green and, and other classic spy writers, because we need more of that right now. Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, and Cate Blanchett star and the always wondrous Olivia Williams is also on board. Interesting cast for an action flick. This one is interesting.
As the creator of such beloved action films as “La Femme Nikita” and “Leon: The Professional,” Luc Besson knows a thing or two about staging a great action sequence. Although the French filmmaker has recently devoted his time to adapting children’s fare like “Arthur and the Invisibles,” he’s remained an integral player in the genre as a writer and producer on some of the best action movies of the last decade. For the follow-up to the 2004 cult hit, “District 13,” Besson has returned with a new story that brings super cop Damien Tomasso (Cyril Rafaela) and reformed criminal Leito (David Belle) back together to save the titular ghetto once again. It’s been three years since they last averted a plan to detonate a nuke within the crime-ridden alleys of District 13, but when a corrupt politician and his security force try to destroy the district for capital gain, Damien and Leito join forces with the local gang leaders to stop them before it’s too late.
Besson’s man-on-a-mission stories are about as predictable as they come, but while some of the exposition can seem a bit contrived at times (not to mention unbelievably boring), it’s a necessary evil that helps bridge together the incredible action sequences. And between Rafaela’s cleverly choreographed fight scenes and Belle’s jaw-dropping, parkour-inspired stunts, “District 13: Ultimatum” features some of the best action you’ll see all year. The fact that they’re actually performing every bone-crunching hit and gravity-defying leap only increases the entertainment level, with some stunts begging to be watched over and over again on a loop. The film’s uninspired story certainly doesn’t do it any favors, but between the high-energy action sequences and the chemistry of its two stars, “District 13: Ultimatum” is still a must-see for any fan of the original.
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