District 13: Ultimatum: More Stunts, Please

Less a sequel than a remake of the exhilarating 2006 French action flick that introduced parkour to American audiences, D13:U only works when at full sprint. In the rotting, riot-prone, walled-off banlieues of near-future Paris, David Belle returns as the endlessly inventive ghetto acrobat—vaulting out windows, leaping from roof to roof, turning the act of evasion into a form of courage. Again he teams with equally idealistic stand-and-fight policeman Cyril Raffaelli, who prefers to confront drug dealers and corrupt politicians directly. Unfortunately, the government baddies aren’t too colorful in producer Luc Besson’s script, directed by Patrick Alessandrin. (The first D13‘s director, Pierre Morel, graduated to Taken and this week’s From Paris With Love.) A rogue government security agency and evil corporation—called, get ready for it, Harriburton—are conspiring to bomb the banlieues and develop the rubble as luxury condos. “It creates jobs,” the villain tells the Sarkozy-style president. “We rebuild a neighborhood for the middle classes, who’ll vote for you next time.” Besson explains the plot three times more than necessary, using flashbacks and a Rodney King–style cop video to underscore how government has failed (and quarantined) the poor. Their champions, Belle and Raffaelli, aren’t given enough stunts to enliven the talky intrigue, which is curious for a movie supposedly aimed at the international Xbox demo. If there’s to be a third D13 installment, let it also be released on PS3 and Wii.