Set in a futuristic Parisian banlieue, 2004 French action thriller District 13 was riddled with plot holes but did act as a brilliant showcase for the awesome free running and jumping skills of Parkour co-founder David Belle, who supplied another burst of kinetic thrills in the 2009 sequel District 13: Ultimatum.
Now, with Brick Mansions, Belle leaps across the Atlantic, landing alongside co-star Paul Walker, in one of his final roles, for an Americanised remake.
The film’s urban hellhole is now Detroit but the basic plot (cooked up by Luc Besson and co-writer Bibi Naceri and as silly as ever) is the same: at some point in the near future, the authorities have walled off the city’s most crime-ridden district, leaving it in the control of a ruthless drug lord (RZA). But when a powerful missile ends up in the sealed-off ghetto, a gung-ho undercover cop (Walker) has to join forces with a police-hating convict (Belle) to track it down and defuse it.
Watching Belle perform his gravity-defying leaps and bounds is still exhilarating, although first-time director Camille Delamarre’s overuse of slo-mo effects and flashy editing does diminish their impact. Watching Walker get behind the wheel for more automotive mayhem, however, feels distinctly uncomfortable in the light of his tragic demise.
Certificate 15. Runtime 91 mins. Director Camille Delamarre.
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