Banlieue 13

Director: Pierre Morel, Main Cast: Cyril RaffaelliDavid BelleTony D’AmarioDany Verissimo-PetitBibi Naceri;

banlieue-13

“1997 Escape From New York” meets “48 Hours” with a hint of “Transporter” (no surprise there, since Luc Besson is one of the writers), it sounds good on paper, I know, but all that glitters is not gold as it’s the case with this film. First we meet Leito (Belle), who lives in the titular banlieue, a degraded neighbourhood with run-down high rises at the outskirts of Paris. He’s a tough guy but he tries to protect the honest people of his district from the rampaging thugs and gangsters led by Taha (Naceri). Then the viewer makes the acquaintance of Damien (Raffaelli), Cpt. Tomaso of the Parisian police, who is tough but fair, works alone and is always respectful of the law. Both guys have Jet Li fighting skills and are champions of urban acrobatics, which makes the action scenes frenetic and impressive. Naturally they will pair up, not liking each other at the beginning, to save the day or, more precisely, Paris from Taha’s evil plan. In this testosterone fest we also get Lola (Verissimo-Petit), Leito’s sister, and almost as badass as him. She ends up, of course, being a prisoner and leverage but also instrumental in the final showdown (girl power!). First independently and later together, Damien and Leito will fight their way up the rungs of the thugs’ hierarchy to get to the bad guy and stop him, in a overly used and very predictable plot. The film is overdone and take itself too seriously, which is a little uncharacteristic for Besson. The complete lack of humor dooms it and makes it a boring flick, adrenaline-fueled scenes notwithstanding. Tedious —4/10

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