Cube 2: Hypercube – Geometry week

To cap off Geometry week, we are going to move into the third dimension. Cube 2: Hypercube is currently available on instant Netflix.

PASS: Cube 2: Hypercube (2002) – Rated R for language, some violence and brief nudity.

“Eight strangers wake up trapped in a giant cube in which every door leads to more cubes just like the last. As the prisoners explore their strange habitat, they come to realize that they are inside a dimension where the laws of physics do not apply. As time goes on, they learn that if they cannot find a way out soon, they will face certain death. Presented with mysterious clues to aid in their escape, they will have to work together to find the only way out.”

“Each one of these rooms has six of these doors and portals, but no matter how many different doors and portals I go through I always end up in the same three rooms. “

Andrzej Sekula takes over directing chores from Vincenzo Natali, who directed the original Cube in 1997. Sekula gets much better performances from his actors. The biggest drawback to the original Cube was the wildly uneven acting.

The original Cube written by Andre Bijelic, Vincenzo Natali and Graeme Manson used a cheesy science fiction premise to explore social archetypes. It was a fascinating idea that played out as a horror movie but had a lot of neat points to make.

Cube 2, written by Sean Hood, Ernie Barbarash and Lauren McLaughlin takes the cheesy science fiction premise and umm tells a science fiction story.

Science fiction works best when it is used to tell us something, usually of the human condition. Dune (the book) is a masterpiece of social conditioning, political power, religion and ecology. Planet of the Apes (the original movie) is a wonderful civil rights allegory told as an adventure story.

On the face of it Cube 2 appears to simply be a retelling of Cube. Unfortunately it changes a lot of what made Cube work.

Cube 2 drops the traps in favor of a lot of mumbo-jumbo about parallel dimensions and time travel. Instead of having the facade of a character fall away as in Cube, Cube 2 just has a psycho from the beginning who starts killing people.

Sekula is also a bit too enamored of splitscreen. Brian De Palma was an early master of it but after eight seasons of 24, splitscreen just does not seem appealing any more.

I enjoyed Cube 2 and found it to be a passable waste of an hour and a half but there really is not enough here for me to recommend it. I rate it a pass – go rent the first Cube instead and try to look past the acting.

For those of you with set top boxes, Cube 2 is presented in high-definition.

People Watch: Not one – not two – not three but four of the actors in this were also in American Psycho II: All American Girl. Geraint Wyn Davies (Simon), Andrew Scorer (Dr. Phil), Neil Crone (Jerry), and Greer Kent (Becky) all appear in both movies.

Triangle – Geometry week

This is Geometry week. Today we graduate from a simple line to a two-dimensional figure. Triangle is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Triangle (2009) – Rated R for violence and language.

“Murder strikes the Bermuda Triangle in this gripping high-seas horror starring Melissa George, Liam Hemsworth and Rachael Carpani. Jess encounters the first of many bad omens when her car kills a seagull near the local harbor. Later that night, her yacht hits a storm, forcing her and her friends to board a mysterious deserted ship. The clock on the ship has stopped — and so has any sense of safety. Christopher Smith writes and directs. “

“Oh you are just having a bad dream, that is all baby. That is all it was. Bad dreams make you think you are seeing things that you have not. You know what I do when I have bad dream? I close my eyes and I think of something nice – like being here with you.”

“Umm Greg – is that normal?” – pointing to a rapidly darkening sky.

Christopher Smith both writes and directs this twisty thriller. It is quite well-written and I am glad that the Netflix description does not give much of the plot away.

Melissa George is the star here. Previously seen as Stella in 30 Days of Night and Lauren Reed on Alias, she has to carry most of the movie on her shoulders. She handles the responsibility well. As in 30 Days of Night, she does a good job of mixing tough with vulnerable.

The rest of the cast is comprised of mostly unknowns (Joshua McIvor, Jack Taylor, Michael Dorman, Rachael Carpani and Henry Nixon) who do a creditable job of supporting Melissa George.

I am hard-pressed for what to discuss here. Normally I discuss the first two acts of a film and then vaguely mention anything that happens in the third act so as to avoid spoiling the movie. Triangle is so full of turns during the second act that I cannot describe the plot.

I will say that there are many scenes that will make you go “huh?” that later in the film you will satisfactorily understand.

The first act is reasonably straightforward and appears to be setting up a scenario a la Ghost Ship or Deep Rising but then the script goes somewhere else entirely.

I grew up in Miami so I love movies that are set there. Unfortunately while this is set in Miami, it is filmed in Australia so I did not get to see any childhood landmarks. Except for the obvious Bermuda Triangle connection, this could just as easily have been set in Australia.

And, of course, Australia is beautiful. I would love to go there someday.

The cinematography is well-handled and Netflix presents Triangle in its original widescreen aspect ratio (2.35:1). Camera angles are well-chosen to both heighten suspense and reveal just as much as Smith wants to reveal and nothing more.

There are beautiful uses of mirrors, a great phonograph scene and some super reveals. There is a single scene 1 hour and 4 minutes into the film that alone makes this film worth watching and yet discussing it even vaguely would be doing this movie a disservice.

I highly recommend this film but you will need to pay close attention to what is going on.

Although the narrative has nothing to do with it, a fun game (on second viewing) is to count the number of references to The Shining you can spot.

People Watch: Director/writer Christopher Smith likes to pull double duty. He previously wrote and directed the entertaining Severance and the horror movie Creep (which I have not seen but is in my enormous queue). His next project (directing only) is Black Death starring Sean Bean.

The Thin Blue Line – Geometry week

This is Geometry week. The Thin Blue Line is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: The Thin Blue Line (1988) – NR – Not rated

“Filmmaker Errol Morris gripping investigation into the murder of a Dallas police officer was responsible for freeing the man who was originally — and erroneously — charged with and convicted of the crime. Through archival footage, interviews and reenactments, Morris skillfully makes a case for the innocence of a man who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Widely acclaimed, this breakthrough documentary won numerous awards.”

“Prosecutors in Dallas have said for years – any prosecutor can convict a guilty man. It takes a great prosecutor to convict an innocent man.”

“The man you see before you is here by the grace of God. The fact that it took 12 and a half years and a movie to prove my innocence should scare the hell out of everyone in this room and if it does not, then that scares the hell out of me.” – Randall Dale Adams

“Texas is putting in a Death Penalty Express Lane.” – Ron White (not from this movie but quite relevant).

Wow. Just Wow.

There is so much to say about this movie. I would rate this film “Watch” just for the simple fact that this movie got someone unjustly convicted of murder freed.

While there were certainly plenty of documentaries before this, Errol Morris is the founder of the modern documentary. This movie paved the way for pretty much every true crime show on television.

Errol Morris originally intended to do a documentary on Dr. Grigson aka The Killer Shrink aka Dr. Death. Dr. Grigson was a professional testifier for the prosecution. He was the go-to guy in Texas if you wanted to get the death penalty.

During interviews, Morris had doubts about the guilt of Randall Dale Adams and made a documentary about his case instead.

I have to admit that while I wholeheartedly recommend this documentary, it is filmed in a slightly confusing manner. The most important thing that it lacks are the on-screen subtitles that identify the person speaking.

Errol Morris spent two and a half years making this film. He has interviews from almost everyone involved with the case – not just those whose point of view he agreed with.

The amount of evidence that David Harris and not Randall Dale Adams committed the crime is simply amazing. David Harris was 16 at the time and ineligible for the death penalty so they prosecuted Randall Dale Adams and did indeed give him the death penalty.

Randall came as close as three days away from being executed.

To show you how justice in Texas works is unbelievably scary. The Texas court of appeals upheld the verdict on a 9-0 vote. It went to the U.S. Supreme Court where they declared the case a mistrial by a vote of 8 to 1. The prosecutor viewed this as a 10-8 vote supporting him.

Not only that but rather than hold a new trial, Governor Bill Clements commuted the sentence to life imprisonment thus negating the U.S. Supreme Court verdict. So basically when it is clearly pointed out that the Texas Judicial System has committed an egregious error, they chose to sweep the whole thing under the rug.

It kind of gives “Dont mess with Texas” a whole new meaning.

The documentary ends with a chilling interview with David Harris. For those who want to know what happened after the documentary ends:

After the film was released and became somewhat of an embarrassment to Texas, the Court of Appeals again reviewed the Adams case and this time *surprise* they found that prosecutor Douglas D. Mulder was guilty of malfeasance and that a witness had given perjured testimony. They overturned the verdict. In March of 1989, Randall Dale Adams was released from prison and is now *also surprise* an anti-death penalty activist.

David Harris, the most likely suspect in the killing, was on Death row for a separate killing at the end of the film (1988). He was executed on June 30, 2004 by lethal injection.

There is no better definition of ungrateful than this. After Morris essentially caused Adams to be released from prison, Adams decided that he really should not have signed away the rights to his story and took Morris to court. They settled out of court and Adams was granted “sole use of anything written or made on the subject of his life”.

This film was not even considered for a documentary Academy Award because portions of it were scripted. Poor Errol Morris just could not win. He has made several documentaries and I have enjoyed all of them. He finally won the Oscar for The Fog of War and while The Fog of War was good, it felt like it was the Oscar that was “owed” to him.

I highly recommend this important and extremely scary film.

In the Line of Fire – Geometry week

This is Geometry week. Yesterday was the lowly Point – today we will connect two of those to make a line. In the Line of Fire is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: In the Line of Fire (1993) – Rated R for adult content, graphic language and violence.

In this triple-Oscar-nominated thriller, director Wolfgang Peterson sets in motion a deadly mind game: A twisted yet ingenious killer (John Malkovich) torments and teases a veteran Secret Service agent (Clint Eastwood) who is haunted by his failure years ago to save JFK. Unable to make the current president take the psychos assassination threats seriously, the agent and his partner (Rene Russo) pursue him on their own, walking into a trap.

“John F. Kennedy said all someone needs is a willingness to trade his life for the Presidents”

Wolfgang Petersen does a great job of directing here. After the classic Das Boot, he came to Hollywood and directed several very intelligent thrillers (this, Outbreak, and Air Force One). Unfortunately he has misfired lately with Troy and Poseidon, two films that should have been so much better than they were.

In the Line of Fire begins with the requisite action scene before becoming an intelligent tense cat and mouse thriller. The opening scene also serves to point out the other main job of the Secret Service – that of protecting U.S. currency.

The screenplay written by Jeff Maguire was nominated for an Oscar. It lost to The Piano by Jane Campion.

I really like that as Clint Eastwood ages, his tough guy characters age as well. His Secret Service agent Horrigan almost has a heart attack on POTUS duty.

Of course Clint would not be Clint if he were not going after someone young enough to be his daughter (sometimes granddaughter). Here the love interest is Secret Service agent Lilly Raines played by Rene Russo. They share a hilarious hotel scene where they shed their equipment.

They give Clint a partner here. Dylan McDermott is Secret Service agent Al D’Andrea but he is more window dressing / plot development than anything else. As with any good cat-and-mouse thriller, the focus is squarely on the protagonist and antagonist.

John Malkovich is excellent here as “Booth”, the would-be assassin. Petersen delights in giving him many different looks. He was nominated for a Best Supporting Oscar for this role. He lost to Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive.

The third Oscar nomination that this film got was for Best Film Editing. Anne V. Coates lost to Michael Kahn for Schindlers List.

While not the best of Petersen’s American thrillers (that honor goes to Air Force One), this is a really good one. I have no reservation recommending it.

People Watch: Look for a pre-Saw Tobin Bell in the opening scene and an uncredited Steve Railsback as CIA Agent David Coppinger.

Flash Point – Geometry week

Okay finally back to some instant Netflix movies. This is Geometry week. We will start with the lowly Point. Flash Point is currently available on instant Netflix.

PASS: Flash Point (2007) – Rated R for strong bloody violence and brutal martial arts action.

“Action masters Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen deliver nonstop martial arts thrills in this tale of triad gang warfare in pre-handover Hong Kong. Reckless Detective Ma (Yen) threatens the careful work of his partner, Wilson (Louis Koo), who has finally infiltrated a notorious triad gang. As the operation begins to collapse, Ma enters the fray to go one-on-one against the triad leader (Collin Chou) before he takes over the streets.”

“Your wife took your son to school so early. It would be a pity if he is dead.”

The fractured English, quick speed of the subtitles and the slightly cut-off subtitles make this a bit more than problematic. The subtitles are understandable but a lot of attention has to be devoted to them.

It starts with a couple of good fight scenes then there is this draggy part in the middle called a plot, some killings, more plot then it ends with a few more fight scenes.

Donnie Yen is good as Ma, the cop who cannot follow the rules. For those unfamiliar with Asian cinema, Donnie Yen was Snowman in Blade II. He is quite an accomplished martial artist and has a chance to show it several times in the movie.

Louis Koo plays the undercover cop Wilson. He is good as well but is clearly overshadowed by Yen. The rest of the actors playing cops are just fine but unremarkable.

Part of my problem with this movie is that I enjoyed it immensely 18 years ago when it was called “Hard Boiled” and starred Yun-Fat Chow as the cop who cannot follow the rules and Tony Leung as the undercover cop. Flash Point does not come close to touching Hard Boiled.

Wilson Yip is the director and has quickly become one of the go-to guys for Asian action cinema. His direction here is good but overall I prefer Johnnie To as the new Asian action king.

If you are a fan of Asian action cinema then by all means check this out. The movie is not bad and there are several good fights, a good shootout, and a few good chases.

If you are not specifically a fan of Asian action cinema then this movie is enough of a mixed bag that it rates a pass.

Kudos to the makers of the film for showing some “making of” shots over the end credits.

People Watch: Collin Chou, who plays the villain Tony here, is more familiar to American audiences as Seraph from the Matrix series.

Lazy Weekend Musings – Actionfest Wrap-Up

Well it looks like I could talk about Actionfest for another solid week but this is supposed to be an instant Netflix blog. I apologize for giving the rest of the films short shrift but it is better than not mentioning them at all. Some of the other films I saw at Actionfest:

WATCH: Vengeance (2009) – NR – Not rated but contains a lot of bloody violence.

“Today, Costello (French music and film icon Johnny Hallyday) is a skilled chef. Twenty years ago, he was a cold-blooded killer working for the mob. But when a horrific tragedy befalls the family of his daughter (Sylvie Testud), Costello returns to his old ways. Journeying from France to Hong Kong, our culinary hero prepares to serve up revenge on a host of bad guys in this bloody tale from acclaimed action director Johnnie To.”

Johnnie To is an excellent action director. Vengeance is an excellent but flawed revenge film. There is an amnesia angle that is hinted at in the first act and mentioned in the second that goes into overdrive in act three. It provides both the best moments in the film and the most logical holes. Still this is a wonderful action and revenge movie. Put it in your Netflix queue.

WATCH: The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008) – NR – Not rated but also has plenty of bloody violence.

“On a train crossing the Manchurian desert, an unlikely trio — good bounty hunter Park Do-won (Woo-sung Jung), bad gangster Park Chang-yi (Byung-hun Lee) and weird train robber Yoon Tae-goo (Kang-ho Song) — unite to find a treasure maps promised loot. Racing through the unforgiving landscape, they stay one step ahead of rivals and the Japanese army. Ji-woon Kim directs this Sergio Leone-inspired adventure.”

My understanding is that this is the largest-grossing Korean film surpassing The Host. It is a wonderful “western” epic with Mongolia filling in for the American West/Mexico. Instead of the focus being on The Good (as in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly), The Good has the least amount of screentime. This movie runs on a bit too long (it could have used tighter editing) but it is quite a bit of fun. The ending is especially good. Put this in your Netflix queue too.

WATCH: Undisputed III: Redemption (2010) – Rated R for brutal, bloody violence and pervasive language.

“Isaac Florentine is back to direct the third film in the Undisputed series, this time following Uri Boyka (British martial artist Scott Adkins) inside the toughest prison in the world to watch him do battle in one of the most lethal competitions known to man. Staying alive is high on Boykas list, but he is also determined to clear his name against the wrongful charges that put him behind bars in the first place.”

Okay how could I not like this film? At Actionfest I got to meet the director Isaac Florentine, the fight choreographer Larnell Stovall, and the actor/martial artist Marko Zoror who plays the villain. Truthfully the story is almost groan-inducingly silly. Normally the holes in the script would sink this film but Isaac Florentine keeps the focus squarely on the action and moves quickly past the exposition. The fight scenes are simply incredible and I am hopeful that Marko Zoror can break through to theatrical movies and not be relegated to DTV martial arts.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil – Actionfest week

This is Actionfest week where I am reviewing some of the films I saw at the wonderful Actionfest. I will return to reviewing instant Netflix movies next week. I saw Tucker & Dale vs. Evil at a midnight showing.

WATCH: Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2009) – NR – This movie is not rated but contains plenty of gore.

“Backwoods boys Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) expect a relaxing vacation at their rundown mountain cabin, but when college kids camping nearby accuse them of being psychotic killers, their peaceful trip turns into a nightmare in this indie horror comedy. The problems begin when the duo saves beautiful student Allisons (Katrina Bowden) life. Soon, numerous misunderstandings cause things to spiral into a grisly situation.”

Wow. I do not want to give away too many details about this movie but it is an absolutely hilarious reversal of standard slasher tropes.

Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson have written a masterpiece here. This is the first writing credit for Morgan and only the second for Eli (he also wrote the short The Tao of Pong). Most blurbs I have seen compare this movie to Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead. In tone it is quite like Shaun, Tucker & Dale is a very good-hearted comedy.

In form though it comes across more like Scream. Tucker & Dale takes the standard hillbillies killing off wayward teens in the woods story and turns it on its ear.

The direction is also by Eli Craig and for a first-time feature film director, he does an excellent job. The stunts and (practical) special effects are quite good. He keeps the action hopping at a brisk pace – there are plenty of gory deaths and lots of laughs.

Part of the magic in the film is definitely the casting.

Tyler Labine, an underrated actor most known for playing “Sock” in the TV series Reaper, plays Dale one of the leads. He plays Dale to lovable perfection as a self-esteem challenged hillbilly.

Alan Tudyk is the other lead and is a wonderful actor. He is best known for playing “Wash” on the TV series Firefly and the movie Serenity. Both are currently available on instant Netflix so why have you not watched them? Here he plays the hapless Tucker who just wants to fix up his vacation home.

Katrina Bowden is our resident damsel in distress. She is also from a TV background, playing Cerie on 30 Rock. Besides being gorgeous (sorry I am still a boy lolz), she has a very nice touch with comedy.

There are so many scenes that I would love to discuss but I prefer to leave them as surprises for you.

Tucker & Dale vs Evil is currently playing the festival circuit looking for a distributor. I find it difficult to understand why no one has snatched up this wonderful comedy but you can put it in your Netflix queue right now and you should.

I highly recommend this film. I was laughing most of the way through the movie as were most of the audience members.

People Watch: Sasha Craig who briefly plays a reporter here is married to Eli Craig. Prior to getting married she was Sasha Williams and played Kelsey Winslow aka Yellow Lightspeed Ranger on the Power Rangers series.

The Stranger – Actionfest week

After watching the execrable Valhalla Rising straight through to the end, I needed something to get that bad art taste out of my head so I watched the last half hour of The Stranger.

PASS: The Stranger (2010) – Rated R for violence and some language.

“When amnesia robs a man (professional wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin) of everything — including his family and his own identity — he is confounded after discovering that he is wanted by the feds and Russian gangsters. But he is not willing to succumb to the present until he reclaims his forgotten past. In the meantime, that means dodging bullets and backstabbers and figuring out whom he can trust.”

It probably is not fair for me to say too much about The Stranger as I only saw the last half hour. I can say that after seeing Valhalla Rising, I was prepared to be quite generous to the Stranger.

You would think the last half hour of an action flick would not be boring. You would also think that coming in for just the last half hour with only a plot outline to guide me that I would be confused. TV director Robert Lieberman proves me wrong on both counts.

Is there a more hackneyed plot device than amnesia? The only one I can think of would be the evil twin I suppose.

If you want a good amnesia movie, go watch Memento, currently available on instant Netflix.

The last half-hour of this movie apparently recapped everything from the first hour in flashback so I did not feel lost.

What I did feel was bored. The acting was indifferent at best. The action sequences had no life to them.

Hint to  Steve Austin and any WWE players out there that want to break in to movies: Make sure you hire a director who can show off your fighting skills in the proper light (for instance Isaac Florentine) and spend the money to grab a couple of good supporting actors to help you.

Normally I would rate this avoid but since I only saw the last half hour I am being generous and giving it a pass.

People Watch: The only other name actor in this is Adam Beach (Law & Order SVU and pretty much any film or show that had a native American role). Unfortunately he is almost as wooden here as Steve Austin.

Valhalla Rising – Actionfest Week

I am still pretty high from Actionfest last weekend. Instead of my usual instant Netflix films, I am reviewing the movies I saw at Actionfest. Valhalla Rising is one of the films that I saw.

AVOID: Valhalla Rising (2009) – NR – Not rated but full of bloody brutal violence.

“After years of slavery, Viking warrior One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen) escapes from his captors and seeks refuge on a Norse ship bound for his homeland. When a storm throws them off course, the crew lands at a mysterious realm inhabited by invisible demons. As the bloodthirsty creatures claim one sailor after another, One-Eye rediscovers his fighting spirit but begins to wonder if they have all crossed over to the afterlife.”

I was really looking forward to this movie. Who does not like Vikings? It is directed by acclaimed director Nicholas Winding Refn (the Pusher trilogy – well-reviewed though I have not seen it yet). It also stars Madds Mikkelsen, an actor I enjoyed in Clash of the Titans and Casino Royale.

Well I know it could not last forever. I finally hit a bad movie at Actionfest (two actually – I have added The Stranger as a postscript to this one).

I was flabbergasted when I saw the good reviews on this film. I would wonder if I had missed something that others had seen except that this was the ONLY Actionfest film where I saw people walk out during it. A good quarter of the audience left before the end. Those that left missed an incredibly fun portion of the film (more on that later).

This film is not just bad, it is jaw-droppingly bad. The production values, action sequences and acting are all fine. The writing and, more to the point, the direction are abominable. Refn not only directed but co-wrote this travesty.

If I had to describe Valhalla Rising in one word, it would have to be pretentious. It thinks it is so much better than it actually is. We have huge pauses nearly constantly where nothing at all happens – including dialogue.

Not only does our main character One-Eye not speak during the film but director Refn clearly told Mikkelsen to have nothing but a stern expression on his face the entire movie. Have you ever seen a mute character not attempt to communicate in any way? One-Eye not only does not speak, he does not gesture or show emotion.

The fun part came after the halfway mark. During the screening I was in, they had a problem with the film. While they fixed the film, the automated Chuck Norris previews came on. Once the film was fixed we had the video for Valhalla Rising but for several minutes they had the Chuck Norris audio on instead of Valhalla Rising.

This made the film an absolute howl and everyone who had stoically endured Valhalla Rising to this point was laughing hysterically. This actually redeemed Valhalla Rising in my eyes but sadly they realized their error after a few minutes and the Valhalla audio came back.

One could literally edit Valhalla Rising down to a 30 minute running time without losing any action, dialogue, or meaning. Take all the worst parts of European cinema of the last half century (unnecessarily lengthy scenes, scenes where people just stare at each other, completely pointless dream sequences, severe closeups) and apply to them to a viking epic.

I am also using the term epic extremely loosely as it is just a single ship with less than a dozen people that sets sail for Jerusalem from “The Far North”. Say what?

When the ship is becalmed, you do not even notice as the film itself was becalmed quite a bit beforehand.

In addition to all of the pauses, the film also features several prophetic sequences which are just bits of a future scene to which a red filter has been applied.

Much of the film reminded me of a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There is a scene in Grail with one of the knights running up to a castle and it is replayed endlessly while the guards look on with the knight never reaching the castle. Then all of a sudden, the knight reaches the gate and kills a guard. A lot of Valhalla is like that only not as funny.

As part of the “high art”, the film is broken into six parts, each with a label. Part six is titled “The Sacrifice” which is how I felt about the time I had devoted to this film.

Normally I refrain from any comments on how a film ends to avoid spoilers. I will say that part of the film ends inconclusively but it really just elicited a shrug from me.

Avoid Valhalla Rising.

District 13 Ultimatum – Actionfest week

This week I will be covering some of the films that I saw at Actionfest this past weekend. District 13 Ultimatum was one of those films.

WATCH: District 13 Ultimatum (2009) – Rated R for some violence, language and drug material.

“Set two years after the action in Pierre Morel and Luc Bessons District 13, this French-language sequel follows Capt. Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli) and Leito (David Belle) on their quest to clean up crime and corruption in the city. With the territory divided into five distinct neighborhoods created along ethnic lines, they have their work cut out for them. But they’ve also got a secret weapon: a will to defy the odds.”

Five years ago, Pierre Morel made the fabulous over-the-top futuristic action movie District B13. I highly recommended it and Pierre Morel went on to direct the marvelous Taken.

As you might guess, District 13 Ultimatum is the sequel to District B13. I have no idea why the B has been dropped. Patrick Alessandrin takes over direction from Pierre Morel.

Parkour masters and martial artists Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle reprise their roles as Captain Damien Tomaso and Leito respectively. They are filled with the same incredible energy as in District B13.

While the film is firmly centered on Cyril and David, some of the supporting gang members are interesting. Elodie Yung plays Tao, the most interesting of these. She is very charismatic and is obviously having a great deal of fun with her role.

Also fun are MC Jean Gab1 as Molko, James Deal as Karl Le Skin,and Laouni Mouhid as Ali-K.

This film is a lot of fun but is not nearly as polished as District B13. They have jettisoned some of the social commentary and what is left are paper targets like a giant company called Harriburton.

The action sequences are more prevalent though less reliant on Parkour. One Parkour sequence appears to just stop with no particular ending which was a little jarring.

Like a Bond film, this film is all about the action and it does deliver. I highly recommend watching the original District B13 which is currently available on instant Netflix. If you like that then I wholeheartedly recommend the sequel even though the original is the better film.

People Watch: Dany Verissimo appears again momentarily as Lola though I do not think they even gave her any lines.