Brick Mansions

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Release: Friday, April 25, 2014

[Theater]

While the last film to feature a performance from Paul Walker is as dumb as a brick, there is something haunting, almost immortalizing left behind in the rubble of this, his final role.

Maybe it’s more haunting because the last major role of his is stuck in a picture as stiff and awkward as Brick Mansions, yet another failure of a script from Luc Besson. Or maybe it’s because it features Paul driving a beautiful Mustang around the ghetto of Detroit. Whatever the reason, Paul’s presence resonates very bittersweet throughout the film and gives the film at least one reason to exist. And a pretty good one, too.

But without him, it has literally none.

Camille Delamarre’s debut feature film is short, but even shorter on entertainment and logic. Apparently a remake of Luc Besson’s much-better written District B13 in which a nuclear warhead is set on destroying Paris, to be launched from the central ghetto that has been walled off by the Parisian government for years. A cop and vigilante criminal must gain access inside the dangerous ghetto and stop the threat and rescue anyone who may be trapped inside (both films make sure this is a young, attractive girl. . .because honestly, how could they not?) In 2014, Besson took that script and scrapped whatever creativity and solid writing it possessed and replaced these things with toilet paper scribblings of ideas. This version would come to be known as Brick Mansions.

In it, Paul plays good Detroit cop Damien Collier who has been supposedly Dark Knight-ing it up around the city for years, fending off escalating crime and tension stemming from the metropolis’ long-forgotten ghetto, which remains at the heart of the city. Filled with what were once beautiful brick buildings, the zone has been completely retaken by criminals, gangsters and other, shall we say, undesirables. . .and while Officer Collier is less of a vigilante than Batman, he finds himself coming face-to-face with some pretty nasty types who wish nothing but for the most harmful. . . .er, harm to befall him.

He does come across the vigilante-esque and mysterious Lino (played by David Belle, the founder of an urban free-running style known as Parkour) who, if anything, would be Robin to Paul Walker’s Batman if we really wanted to continue with this metaphor.

Lino is an ex-con who has recently been released from prison but now finds himself in a scrap with inner-city thugs who have kidnapped his girlfriend (Catalina Denis) — seriously, did Besson just copy-and-paste his old script here? Stopping at nothing to get her back apparently is going to include teaming up with Collier, who is of course initially reluctant to work with a criminal. After all, you know. . .a criminal killed his father. After an awkward stand-off the pair agree to throw themselves into the lion’s den, seeing as they both are pursuing the same man as it turns out. Collier has been tracking down the ringleader Tremaine (RZA) for many years, and Lino only recently has had cause to find him since his girl was taken.

As the presiding ‘evil’ that rules the brick mansion territory, RZA’s Tremaine is actually suitably sinister and perhaps the most intelligently spoken of any character in this film. While his worldview is not particularly original nor even really that compelling it is at the very least believable, unlike anything else the movie has to offer. Collier is a decent man but greatly lacking in personality; Walker tries his best with what he is provided, which is skimpy at best. He’s meant to be following in the shadow of his father who was killed in the line of duty, but that story is so woefully underdeveloped it barely counts as an afterthought.

David Belle is fun to watch, if only for the extensive (bordering on self-indulgent) stunt reel he puts together for the camera. His many escapades actually comprise a good portion of the running time, which truthfully saves the story from being any worse. As a character, though, Lino’s pretty asinine as well, remaining a caricature of a desperate man trying to stay out of trouble.

Brick Mansions makes great use of its grubby and grimy set — for whatever that’s worth. Filmed as though moving throughout levels in a videogame, the camera moves us in and out of intricate spaces filled with bad guys, bullets and babes pistol-whipping one another. The use of CGI is apparent but surprisingly not among the film’s failings. Despite a gritty and somewhat interesting setting, there’s far more wrong with more important components like story and character development. When it comes to actually structuring this foundation, Brick Mansions simply crumbles.

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1-5Recommendation: Admittedly a terrible last outing for Paul, it is nonetheless the last film with Paul in a completed role, and is somewhat worth seeing on that level. Brick Mansions flirts with ideas like the ideological struggle between rich and poor societal classes, something it could have sunk its teeth into more and could possibly have become an intriguing movie as a result. But this is nowhere close to being a movie with ideas, it’s perfectly content with sitting back and being a carbon copy of much better (and still generic) action flicks. Avoid this unless you are in the middle of a mission to see every Paul Walker flick (good for you, I say). Even if that’s the case, this one can probably be placed fairly low on your list.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 90 mins.

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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18 thoughts on “Brick Mansions

  1. Still going to watch this. I know, I know, I’m nuts! Just will not be going to theaters. I am actually really interested in hearing just how awful the dialogue is. I still remember really liking the original. No surprise that the American remake sucks!

    Walker fans should have no concern. This will be long forgotten and he will be remembered for Fast & The Furious!

    • Good callllll!!!!! It was astonishingly poorly-written and there was a plot so sorry it begged for forgiveness. Surprisingly though, RZA wasn’t the worst part of it, which is totally where I thought this would go off the rails. . .

    • Cut the mustard!!! Add that to the list of excellent expressions I’ve been graced with in this comments section! Thanks a lot man, it was a tough job writing a review this negative for his final movie, but with any luck my negativity wasn’t directed towards his work.

      It remains to be seen what it’s going to be like in Fast 7 with his brother’s CGI-dubbed-in facial use

  2. Oh this is by Luc Besson? Can’t say I’m surprised then, The Family was just as awful IMO. I think the only good thing he did were The Professional and the first Transporter. Heh, too bad Paul Walker’s last film is such an abomination.

    • Hey Ruth, did you see this then? I’m actually still trying to calculate which was more crummy, this or The Family — I think they’re pretty even! lol.

      I have to. . .HAVE TO . . see Leon the Professional! I cannot read another review until I do, lol. Forgot he did Transporter, but yes that was also enjoyable. Moreso than it’s sequels.

      This film had the slight redeeming factor of showcasing Paul Walker for the final time, but I so wish it could have done better by him. Sure am going to miss him in those cars. Some of the scenes here were definitely bittersweet to watch

      • No I haven’t seen Brick Mansion, it just didn’t appeal to me at all. The Family is utterly rubbish!! It wasted all of the cast which is a shame. The Professional is a must watch tho!

  3. Great blog man.

    This film is pretty flawed, and yet I still had fun with it. And at 90 minutes it does not overstay its welcome. Dialogue was so bad that it sort of ended up being a positive to me lol.

    • Hey thanks very much man! Glad you found me and could stop in.

      Good that you had some fun with it; I must admit that the action scenes were pretty well-done, esp the chase/parkour sequences. And I would probably also agree that the dialogue was so bad it became funny! haha. Maybe i just needed to lighten up a bit, this wasn’t ever meant to be a real serious film.

    • The trailer actually worked for me, but now looking back on what it is actually advertising, then yes. The trailer is no good. But by comparison, the film is an utter pile of garbage. Poor Paul Walker.

    • Yeah it is a little bit of a sore patch but for what it’s worth, Paul remains very likable in the film. He doesnt take so much of a beating but the rest of the stuff around him including the cast was pretty damn bad lol

  4. Absolutely idiotic, but it’s exactly what I expected from the first scene when David Belle was parkouring all over the damn place. Good review Tom.

    • Idiotic it is my friend, but somehow I remember your review using that term a lot and somehow being more positive than mine! hahah i’m glad you saw it as a silly movie that didn’t take itself seriously. I actually believed it to be taking itself TOO seriously, but no matter what. . . at least we can agree that David Belle was a pretty badass parkour stuntman haha. That was the best thing about this movie. Meh. . no, not true. Paul Walker still.

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