The movement in this film is aided by parkour. The physical and spiritual beauty of parkour, which began on the outskirts of Paris in the nineties, is the sight of daredevil teens spontaneously negotiating walls, fences, abutments, and open spaces as they race through an urban environment. Parkour is extended acrobatic movement on the fly, and, as something to watch, it gains enormously from continuity. The parkour genius David Belle was on hand to give instruction, and Gyllenhaal, a good athlete, jumps over a wall, runs along a parapet, swings on a rope to another level, jumps down a kind of hollow, landing twenty feet below, and so on. The problem is that the movement has been broken into fragments and reassembled. The thrill of a single man mastering space is gone; here the continuity is provided by the glib editing of thrashing limbs, in which you never see any given action clearly. There are some kinds of happy authenticity that can’t be faked, no matter how vast a fortune you spend.
The existence of the hyperkinetic mess that is a Jerry Bruckheimer production is exactly the reason why we need the warm and conversational literary adaptations of James Ivory in the world, no matter what some ill-informed bloggers may think. (Cinematical)