District 13 Pierre Morel

District 13 is a stylish, kinetic action flick that takes a very real, contemporary social issue and imagines a possible future France where the situation has escalated beyond control. The year is 2010 and the government has isolated the worst ghettos of Paris behind intimidating walls in an attempt to deal with what they can no longer control. District 13 is the worst of these and things aren’t likely to get much better when a neutron bomb ends up in the hands of Taha, the local kingpin of crime (played by co-writer Bibi Naceri). An elite cop and a District 13 do-gooder team up to find and disarm the bomb before millions are killed. District 13 leads Cyril Raffaelli (cop Damien) and David Belle (do-gooder Leito) are pretty much first time actors but they handle themselves admirably. Still, they understand their dramatic shortcomings and focus heavily on realistic action sequences that are a refreshing change from Hollywood's emphasis on CGI effects. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Raffaelli's day job is as a stuntman/fight coordinator and Belle is one of the co-founders of Parkour, a sort of extreme running that treats city architecture as an obstacle course. District 13 is worth checking out just for the phenomenal stunts these two pull off, and the story, though simple, twists and turns almost as much as the two action heroes. Plus, first-time director Pierre Morel puts his background as a cinematographer to good use with some beautiful and unique shots. And for an extra adrenaline rush, the DVD contains an extended fight scene and a humorous outtakes reel, as well as a very informative, well-done "making of” featurette. (Alliance Atlantic)