Free-running is the gimmick powering this actioner scripted and produced by French action powerhouse Luc Besson and also known as District B13 (B is for “Banlieue”). Set in a broken-down Paris in the near future, District 13 has an Escape from New York kind of vibe and follows a tough cop (Cyril Raffaelli) and a gangland desperado (David Belle) into a walled-off urban badland to sort out the guys who’ve nicked a nuclear weapon (it was the US president in Escape from New York). But back to the free-running, or le parkour as its French originators (one of whom is David Belle himself) call it – the adrenalised athletic stuntorama that could simply be described as “running and jumping”, if you wanted to piss off everyone who does it. Every time the action threatens to slow down and reveal the film as little more than a lot of bullet-headed guys in black vests shouting at each other, the leaping, running and jumping starts up again. And, quite honestly, what more does an action film need than action?
© Steve Morrissey 2006