District B13

Film
LEAP GAUL BUILDINGS IN A SINGLE BOUND! Belle's action heroics defy gravity.
LEAP GAUL BUILDINGS IN A SINGLE BOUND! Belle’s action heroics defy gravity.

Time Out says

Silly us: We thought all that fast running and leaping in Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior was simply called “fast running and leaping.” Turns out it’s a whole nouveau rage, christened parkour in France, and loosely defined as urban “free running.” What was once good for Jackie Chan is now an acrobatic phenomenon for all, calling out to amateur traceurs—literally, “bullets”—across Paris and even worldwide. (No statistics yet on the new trend of parkour-inspired hospital visits.)

David Belle, parkour’s founder and already a minicelebrity in Europe for a funny, non-wire-assisted commercial he did for the BBC, appears in District B13; he’s a born movie star. Only ten minutes in, and he’s vaulting across rooftops, shimmying down stairwells and cramming his body into tight spots—all of it set to pounding techno music while his goonlike pursuers find themselves painfully unequal to the task. Watching Belle move, so fluidly and agilely, is a reminder of what our computerized action movies rarely provide: the thrill of physical accomplishment.

What’s the movie about? Unsurprisingly, not much, apart from spinning a sci-fi lattice around Belle, who plays an ex-criminal who antagonizes a drug lord, and his equally nimble costar Cyril Raffaelli, as a martial-arts supercop. Still, if you’re trawling for genre plots, John Carpenter’s Escape from New York is hardly the worst place to start. In this case, it’s Paris 2010, subdivided into walled-off “high risk” zones where crime runs rampant. There’s even a nuclear bomb involved. Trust us, you really won’t care. (Opens Fri; click here for venues.)—Joshua Rothkopf

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