Original Title: Banlieue 13
Starring: Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Tony D’Amario, Ludovic Berthillot, Samir Guesmi, Dany Verissimo-Petit
Directed By: Pierre Morel
Written By: Luc Besson, Bibi Naceri
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 24 min
A near future ghetto in Paris, labeled District B13, is the setting for this stylish and relatively brief showcase of great stunt work and martial arts. Seemingly unable to sit still for a moment, as it follows a dedicated cop, and a street wise ex-thug as they fight to stop a neutron bomb from killing 2 million people.
Plot wise, this is pretty standard stuff, but it still manages to provide a few interesting twists here and there. The performances from Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle are also pretty run-of-the-mill, but exactly what you’d expect from a couple of well-trained stuntmen. It’s also worth mentioning David Belle is the leading pioneer of the Parkour discipline, which is heavily featured in this film.
B13 is an action movie in the purest sense. It’s quick, and the action is inventive and surprising. Its lead stars are superb stuntmen first, and director Pierre Morel (Taken) wisely doesn’t waste any time trying to force any pointless emotional heft on this story. He simply focuses on properly exploiting the talent available to him, and uses the serviceable plot to set up some truly epic action sequences. And while I did feel the editing in a few scenes got unnecessarily rapid, on the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this. I would even place it in the same league with other action greats like The Raid: Redemption and Hard Boiled.
This is a frantic and stylishly violent 84 minutes of French language mayhem. Not surprisingly, it’s rated R in the US for that very reason – the violence that is, not the speaking French stuff!
B13 is decently made, but isn’t a huge visual spectacle that needs a theater screen to enjoy. A HD copy to watch with fellow action movie fans is the best way to go with this film.
The opening Parkour showcase with David Belle being chased around B13 is amazing to watch!