Friday, September 18, 2015

This Is What Happens When You Defund Public Services

Taking advantage of Alex' high-quality Internet connection to watch some random movies. There were a lot of probably horrible horror films to watch, but I opted for District B13 instead.

It's set in a section of Paris that's doing so poorly it's been walled off, and is largely run by drug lords. One in particular, Taha, is angry that Leito (David Belle) stole and flushed his big shipment of coke. He tries having his top goon kidnap Leito's sister Lola, but Leito gets to Taha, and tries turning him over to the cops. But seeing as the cops are about to abandon the district entirely, they arrest Leito, give Taha back his guns, and let him take Lola so he can get her hooked on smack and keep her leashed next to his chair.

Flash ahead six months, and Taha has managed to steal a nuke, which for some reason was armed as soon as the case was opened. In 24 hours, it will go off. Rather than try a military response, the government opts to send one cop, Captain Tomaso, who is extremely skilled at undercover operations to find the bomb, with Leito as a guide. Tomaso (Cyril Raffelli) tries the "pretend to be a fellow con and engineer an escape from a transport" trick, but Leito sees through it right off, so the two have to deal a little more honestly. Which isn't going to be easy, considering Leito's justifiable cynicism about helping a government that was all too willing to pretend he didn't exist. Still, Leito isn't willing to risk millions of innocents dying.

I'm spending a lot of time on plot, which is probably misleading. Luc Besson helped produce this, and Belle was one of the people who helped make parkour a big thing. So this is mostly about giving Belle and I think Raffelli (it didn't look like a stunt double) do their thing. So there's quite a few chase sequences in the city, guys leaping over railings, from balcony to balcony, jumping over and off moving cars. Taha has an army of goons at his disposal, so our heroes have to use terrain to their advantage, so it makes sense (and from Leito's perspective, growing up in the District, getting good at finding unorthodox ways to get from Point A to Point B would be a good idea). It gets incorporated into the fights as well, lots of springboarding off walls, trying to confuse the opponent with spinning around and striking from every direction. So you get fights against a bunch of guys, or one really big guy, or one guy who is also really skilled at parkour. Mixes it up a bit.

It's a nice touch that Taha is a shitty boss, and so when things go wrong (the government refuses to pay his ransom, but do take the opportunity to steal all the money from his accounts), his men don't remain loyal. I always wonder why henchmen continue to work for bosses who will start shooting them the moment something goes wrong. The money is the obvious answer (fear or inability to see other options are probably the others), so it's good to see the goons stand up for themselves once that hammer is taken away.

The idea a government would wall off and try to forget a section of the city doesn't feel terribly farfetched considering how eager many politicians are to disenfranchise large segments of the population, or to otherwise cease to serve them. The conflict for Tomaso, who believes in the ideals he's supposed to serve, but is following orders from people who very obviously do not, is resolved far too smoothly, but it was a nice fantasy.

Alex really hated the main goon's hair. Everyone calls him K2 (because he's a big fat guy, though not the biggest fat guy in the film), and so he has "K2" shaved into the back of his head. It did look pretty bad, but I hated the track suits more.

1 comment:

The Pretentious Fool said...

I watched this a few years ago and really enjoyed it. There is a sequel called District 13: Ultimatum that is pretty much the same plot, but with more of a heist feel.