John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
This British homage to the popular dystopian game has everything (except the shooting-at-the-cops stuff, of course).
Fans of 2008's Mirror's Edge might be disappointed that this real-life tribute lacks firefights with the cops, kicking in doors and, most grievously, leaping like a mad weasel onto the skids of a flying helicopter. What the heck, parkour dude – did you even play the video game?
But in every other way, the electrifying footage is a fine homage to Electronic Arts' run-leap-tumble masterpiece, now most likely to be found in a GameStop bargain bin. You have some running around the rim of a parking garage four stories above the street. There's pseudo wall-walking and hopping onto platforms so tiny that if the runner erred by a matter of pixels... er, inches, the result would be a bone-crunching slam. There's the requisite racing on ventilation shafts and scaling of ladders, and even the gloves and soundtrack is the same.
The video was directed by Scott Bass of Ampisound, a multimedia production crew that features several members of England's parkour community. Playing the part of Faith, the Eurasian heroine of Mirror's Edge, is traceur Neil Cointet, who soars through his native Cambridge like he has flapping bat wings. There are several nasty moments where you're sure Cointet is destined to become the world's first parkour athlete on crutches, notably (spoiler alert!) the chimney landing at 1:30 and 2:10's somersault over an alley.
The Ampisound crew decided to make this film after hearing that EA is planning a sequel to Mirror's Edge, continuing the storyline of underground runners fighting the Man in a futuristic, dystopian megalopolis. (Here's the trailer.) They write:
We're massive fans of Mirror's Edge, and are always getting comments and comments saying 'Wow this is like real life Mirrors Edge'. Well EA/DICE recently announced Mirrors Edge 2, and out of excitement we decided to put together this POV video! If it does well, we've got some plans for a second one!
They also point out that parkour runs through the history of gaming, becoming part of the action in the Assassin's Creed series, in Crackdown, and they claim even in Super Mario Bros., although I've yet to see a flesh-and-blood traceur smash through a brick wall with his noggin. As an Ampisound fan noted on Facebook: "Whenever I play Assassin's Creed (insert number/subtitle here), I always think the parkour/climbing stuff seems pretty over the top. Then I watch a parkour video, and it suddenly seems much more realistic."
This is the meat-world video:
And these are highlights from the original Mirror's Edge (a longer version without the music is here):