Three years ago in 2010, cop Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli) had teamed up with Leito (David Belle) one of the citizens of the grim, deprived area of Paris known as District 13 which had been walled off from the rest of the city to keep its criminal fraternity contained and cut off from the rest of society. But now in 2013, things are the same in spite of a change of government, and Leito wages a one man campaign against the walls, setting bombs where he can, but still not making much of an impact. However, what if there were drastic plans for the region being drawn up...?
This was, naturally, the sequel to the international hit District 13 that made a star of Belle, the inventor of the so-called free running sport of parkour, which basically involved a lot of running and jumping and generally flinging yourself around an urban landscape for kicks. Not that he much capitalised on his chances as a movie star, preferring to work behind the scenes as a stunt co-ordinator, although producer and writer Luc Besson was able to coax him back for this second instalment. You know what that meant, don't you? That's correct, lots more action sequences from one of the men who could really pull off those moves in real life.
Raffaelli was no slouch either, and together they made a winning team, their characters from either side of the law, but both with the morality worth cheering for. In the opening stages, Ultimatum looks to be well on its way to bettering the previous instalment, with Leito escaping the police with some flair, and Tomaso donning drag to conquer a nightclub packed with criminals with some excellent combat moves. This appeared to be setting up some incredble action for the latter stages, yet while that does manage to be fun to watch, for some reason the tension and excitement waned by that point, and the film went off the boil.
Part of the problem was that while the race is on to prevent the corrupt authorities from demolishing District 13, actually it's such a den of iniquity that you don't think that would be such a bad idea because if they built something better in its place you could optimistically conceive of a more hopeful existence for its denizens. It's not as if the bad guys want to blow up the place with the people still in it, as they orchestrate an evacuation of the population to stop anyone getting killed. This rendered the denouement, where our heroes drum up support among the gang leaders to halt the powers that be in their tracks, somewhat broken-backed in the process.
However, the chance of seeing Raffaelli and Belle avoiding a broken back with their unquestionable physical skill remained a draw, and chances were that if you had enjoyed the first movie you would be keen to see more of the same and appreciate what they conjured up here. With the officials organising a mass fooling of the populace to make it look as if District 13 gangsters have murdered a car full of cops, and Tomaso framed and imprisoned, there was a neat, extended sequence where Leito breaks him out of jail, negotiating the police and the main heavy with aplomb. The politics of the movie were still supporting the disadvantaged underclass, and proud of it, so even the meanest gang boss was able to redeem himself for a somewhat starry-eyed ending, but if it appeared to bring an end to future sequels, the films we did have were enjoyable enough, the parkour offering a novel addition to the action flick line. Music by Da Octopuss and Trak Invaders.