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'District B-13' leaps into crime-fighting


"Nasty, brutish and long," e-mailed a friend after seeing Mission: Impossible III. Say this for District B-13: It's nasty, brutish and short. It also boasts actor-athletes who turn kicking butt into jack-booted ballet and keep the production craftsmen jumping. You feel the camera must be moving on coordinated pole vaults and catapults. For better and worse, the entire film goes by like a theme-park cyclone ride. It makes as much sense as it needs to when you're on it. All it leaves in its wake is a residue of vertigo and speed.

It's 2010, and the French government has disowned and walled off District B-13, the most crime-ridden suburb of Paris, turning it into a tenement empire running on coke and greed. After 45 minutes of steroidal setups, the plot clicks into gear when someone hijacks a neutron bomb and delivers it to the district's ruling drug lord, Taha (Bibi Naceri). An elite undercover cop, Damien (Cyril Raffaelli), attempts to defuse it with the help of Taha's sworn enemy, a righteous district native named Leito (David Belle). This swarthy, seething, tattooed Mr. Clean landed in the slammer only after killing a cop who allowed Taha to seize his sister, Lola (Dany Verissimo).

District B-13 (Magnolia Pictures) Raffaelli, David Starring Cyril Belle and Dany Verissimo. Directed by Pierre Morel. Rated R. Time 85 minutes.

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