×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Banlieue 13

Heavy artillery, sheer physical dexterity and down-to-the-wire suspense mix well in "Banlieue 13," a message-based actioner that's fast, dumb fun. Although some local crix have dismissed pic as a poor copy of John Carpenter's "Escape From New York," word-of-mouth should point to decent biz for Luc Besson-spawned venture in which a principled guy from the projects and a principled undercover cop unite to disarm a purloined neutron bomb before it obliterates 2 million people.

With:
With: David Belle, Cyril Raffaelli, Tony D'Amario, Larbi Naceri, Dany Verissimo, François Chattot, Nicolas Woirion, Patrick Olivier, Samir Guesmi, Gadner Jerome, Tarik Boucekhine.

Heavy artillery, sheer physical dexterity and down-to-the-wire suspense mix well in “Banlieue 13,” a message-based actioner that’s fast, dumb fun. Although some local crix have dismissed pic as a poor copy of John Carpenter’s “Escape From New York,” word-of-mouth should point to decent biz for Luc Besson-spawned venture in which a principled guy from the projects and a principled undercover cop unite to disarm a purloined neutron bomb before it obliterates 2 million people.

Basic premise has a painless subtext that should resonate without roiling the target aud: The rule of law is way cooler than the way of the gun. And — oh, yeah — if you’re a member of a disenfranchised underclass, try not to let the authorities build a wall around your neighborhood.

It’s 2010 and the government has erected concrete barriers around the hard-to-handle suburbs near Paris (“banlieue” is the French word for ‘burb). As a public service, spunky local lad Leito is busy destroying 20 kilos of heroin in the bathtub of his tower-block apartment when very armed, very menacing reps of local Scarface-like kingpin Taha (Larbi Naceri, who also co-scripted under the moniker Bibi Naceri) come looking for him. Leito — played by the more-Spiderman-than-thou David Belle of “Yamakasi” fame — escapes in a thrilling series of muscular stunts that call for him and his shock-absorbing knees to treat high-rise concrete structures and rooftops like well-placed trampolines.

In retaliation, Taha sends his baddies to kidnap Leito’s feisty sister, Lola (Dany Verissimo). Taha is not a nice man: Lola is soon strung out on heroin and kept on a dog leash at his feet while Leito does form-preserving sit-ups in prison.

Meanwhile, in a terrific prolonged set piece, undercover cop Damien (martial arts ace Cyril Raffaelli) captures a sleazy Latino crime boss and shuts down his illicit casino, against very stacked odds. Damien’s reward is an assignment that’s as delicate as it is seemingly impossible: Penetrate notorious Suburb 13 and stop the accidentally triggered countdown on a deadly bomb that was hijacked by Taha.

Narrative skeleton is derivative and formulaic but rarely feels that way thanks to bullet pacing, nifty choreography and a few well-placed rejoinders. Much of pic was lensed in Romania where the menacing bad guys must have come from Ugly Suckers R Us. For once, the vidgame-cum-comic book atmosphere is just plausible enough to make suspension of disbelief a pleasure instead of an intelligence-insulting chore.

Belle and Raffaelli were born to get out of filmic tight spots on short notice together — their sinewy moves and martial arts maneuvers are consistently fun to watch and there’s next to no expository dead air between action sequences.

Pic contains nothing groundbreaking or eternal but viewers should leave entertained instead of worn out.

Banlieue 13

France

Production: A EuropaCorp release of a EuropaCorp presentation of a EuropaCorp, TF1 Films Prod. production, with participation of Canal Plus. (International sales: EuropaCorp, Paris.) Produced by Luc Besson. Executive producer, Bernard Grenet. Directed by Pierre Morel. Screenplay, Luc Besson, Bibi Naceri.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Manuel Teran; editor, Ferderic Thorval; music, D.A. Octopusss ; production designer, Hugues Tissandier; costume designers, Alexandre Rossi, Martine Rapin; sound (Dolby), Frederic Ullmann, Didier Lozahic; assistant director, Stephane Gluck; casting, Swan Pham. Reviewed at UGC Danton, Paris, Nov. 10, 2004. Running time: 81 MIN.

With: With: David Belle, Cyril Raffaelli, Tony D'Amario, Larbi Naceri, Dany Verissimo, François Chattot, Nicolas Woirion, Patrick Olivier, Samir Guesmi, Gadner Jerome, Tarik Boucekhine.

More Film

  • Cannes: China's 'Summer of Changsha' Debuts

    Cannes: China's 'Summer of Changsha' Debuts Without Censorship Approval

    Chinese crime drama “Summer of Changsha” screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section despite lacking the necessary approvals from China’s censors. It premiered without its director or creative team in attendance, who blamed “technical reasons” for their absence — marking the third time that Chinese censorship appears to have caused [...]

  • Jane Austin SAG AFTRA

    SAG-AFTRA Secretary-Treasurer Jane Austin Running for President

    Jane Austin, the National Secretary-Treasurer of SAG-AFTRA, has become the third candidate for the presidency of the performers union, joining incumbent Gabrielle Carteris and Matthew Modine. Austin is running as an independent for the top post at SAG-AFTRA, which has 160,000 members. Carteris will seek re-election as the head of the ticket for the Unite [...]

  • John Wick Chapter 3

    'John Wick: Chapter 3' Tones Down the Blood and Gore to Keep Look 'Totally Real'

    When Jeff Campbell, a visual effects supervisor with VFX studio Spin, initially set to work on the first “John Wick,” the 2014 action thriller from director Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad, he started with an industry-standard test: Establish a single, simple kill effect meant to get a sense of the look of the violence [...]

  • Louise Courvoisier’s ‘Mano a Mano’ Wins Cinéfondation

    Louise Courvoisier’s ‘Mano a Mano’ Wins Cannes Cinefondation Selection Top Prize

    CANNES–“Mano a Mano,” by Louise Courvoisier of France’s CinéFabrique, won the first prize Thursday at the 22nd Cinéfondation Selection,the Cannes Film Festival’s top film school shorts awards. The prize was awarded by a jury headed by French director Claire Denis (“Beau Travail”). The jury also included French actress Stacy Martin (“Godard mon amour”); Israeli writer-director Eran [...]

  • The Traitor

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Traitor'

    What surprises most about Marco Bellocchio’s Mafia drama “The Traitor” is just how straightforward it is. Given its subject — Tommaso Buscetta, the highest-ranking Mafia don to sing to the authorities — there were expectations that the director would deliver a theatrical drama along the lines of “Vincere,” but notwithstanding a few operatic flourishes, his [...]

  • Perfect Strangers

    Zhao Tao, Rajkumar Hirani Join Shanghai Festival Jury

    Italian director Paolo Genovese and Chinese actress Zhao Tao are among members of the jury for the upcoming Shanghai International Film Festival. They join the previously announced jury president, 2014 Cannes Palme d’Or winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the Turkish director behind last year’s “The Wild Pear Tree.” Genovese’s 2016 film “Perfect Strangers” made $7.7 million [...]

  • ‘An Easy Girl’ Wins Cannes Directors’

    ‘An Easy Girl’ Wins Cannes Directors’ Fortnight French-language Movie Prize

    CANNES  —  One of France’s most highly-regarded young women filmmakers, Rebecca Zlotowski, has won the Directors’ Fortnight prize for best French-language movie for “An Easy Girl,” a sensual coming of age tale set on France’s Cote d’Azur. From reviews published to date, “An Easy Girl” marks a return to form for Zlotowski after the disappointment [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content