Banlieue 13: Ultimatum

The Only Sequel That Should Ever Have Been Made

Out of all the movies I’ve seen in my life, there has never been a sequel I liked more than the original.

I may have liked the third movie better than the original, but never the second movie. Sequels always seemed forced to me. Why did they have to create another story when the first one ended so nicely?

That was before I saw Banlieue 13: Ultimatum, the sequel to Banlieue 13.

Banlieue 13: Ultimatum

Banlieue 13 is French and translates to District 13. It is set in the future during a time when a district of Paris becomes too violent and is walled off from the rest of the city. Inside the walls of District 13 crime is everywhere, and even the police cannot create order. A drug lord named Taha controls everything.

The first movie sets up the conflict between the separate worlds through the two main characters. Leïto, played by David Belle, was born inside District 13 and is fighting to stop crime with his bare hands. From outside the walls of District 13, Captain Damien Tomaso, played by Cyril Raffaelli, is also fighting to stop crime, but on the side of the police.

In Banlieue 13: Ultimatum, District 13 is now under attack by five different gangs fighting for control of the district. Something happens and it seems like one of the gangs killed some police officers without provocation. This quickly escalates and the President of France is forced to make a drastic decision on whether or not to wipe out District 13 for good. You’ll have to watch to find out what happens.

The second film did a much better job of showing the interactions between the different groups and the city outside the segregated District 13. It showed nuances of how people deal differently with conflict and what can happen if there is no order in a society. This makes the story line more intricate and separates it from your typical action movie.

Besides a storyline that has more depth to it than most movies in its genre, the Banlieue 13 series incorporates Parkour, an extreme sport that only uses the human body, partially invented by one of the stars, David Belle. The term Parkour, comes from the French word Parcours, which means course.

The idea of Parkour is to get from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible. To do this, you use the momentum of your body and the obstacles around you. Check out this awesome example to get an idea of what it looks like in action.

You can see how David Belle utilizes walls, stairs and anything around him to give him momentum and get him to where he wants to go.

These movies were written and produced by Luc Besson, a French director, writer, and producer. He’s worked on films including Taken, Taxi, The Transporter and The Fifth Element.  Besson comes from an interesting background with little knowledge of “classic films” or formal cinematographic schooling. He was denied from French Film school after citing “Scorsese, Spielberg and Milos Forman” as his favorite directors. The blog, Film Art Point writes,

Considered by some as the most American of French film directors; his films are stylish modern society insight, often dealing with contemporary themes – absence of family, frequent violence and unusual emotional relations; his childlike heroes come from social margins or imagined worlds.

You can tell these are Luc Besson films due to the visual style, high action, and interesting take on our expectations of the characters’ motivations.

If you enjoy fast paced action, an interesting storyline, and don’t mind reading subtitles then you should check out the Banlieue 13 movies. You can watch them on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Feel free to comment to let me know if you liked Banlieue 13, or the sequel Banlieue 13: Ultimatum better.

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