Friday, August 13, 2010

District 13: Ultimatum - 2.5/5

The underground success of the first "District B13" may have come as a shock to many, but the sequel "District 13: Ultimatum" might even be a bigger shock. Not that the characters from the original didn't need another vehicle for their stunts and parkour work (I'm all for that shit!) but I never took the first one to be the kick off for a franchise. But franchises are awesome, so I'll take one more trip into the gangland of District 13 in "Ultimatum".

3 years have passed since Leito (Belle) and Damien (Raffaelli) worked together as two opposite sides to take down the crime lord in District 13. Now the District is even in more of a chaos than before as 5 new crime lords have taken up refuge there. France is looking to handle the situation and a rogue section of their military is looking to fan the flames and get the place pummeled. To do so they need to take out some minor threats to their unjust scheme. They frame Damien to get him out of the way. Now its up to Leito to bust out his friend and get the evidence they need to put away these military types and save their district. It may take getting a little back up too.

What made the original "District 13" such a fun watch with the light hearted social commentary that went with the solid stunt work and lightning paced story. What "Ultimatum" lacks is the sharpness that made the original one the surprise hit it was. The political side of the film and social commentary seems tagged on as an after thought more often than not as a small detail to the bigger (read: trying too hard to out perform the original) plot lines. It suffers from being a sequel too much rather than trying to be its own entity.

The stunts and parkour are good but not quite as sharp either. The film almost seems cheesier as it tries to throw our two heroes into some nasty situations like the over the top drug bust in the beginning or the use of the 5 crime lords to infiltrate the military compound. Although it makes for some good action sequences, it does bog the film down with needless tangents that hinder the overall pacing and logic of the film.

I'll try not to give any spoilers away to the end of the film, but I'm not so sure it actually made sense. I mean they gave a reason for it and it works if you don't really think about, but after the ending happens it kind of feels like the entire film was needless to begin with. The whole mission, the urgent need, and the entire concept of the film seem to be rather...irrelevant. Which makes the ending pretty damn disappointing in my book. All that for nothing!

"Ultimatum" isn't without its charms though as the action sequences are fun and stunt filled to the gills. Our two heroes do have some fun and exciting chemistry on screen and its easy to see how they could want to make more films with them. Hell, I would see a science fiction western if those characters were buddies in it because they seem to have a lot of fun on screen together with some clever banter. Overall though, "Ultimatum" feels like an exercise in trying too hard to make a sequel rather than letting it do its own thing. Fun, but not much more than that. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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