Brick Mansions is an American remake of the French action film, District B13 (2004), that starred the French inventor of the Parkour … uhh … obstacle exercise technique (?), David Belle. I’m not really sure what Parkour is, other than you jump, swing and flip over walls, cars and fences while running from something. Skills that I’m sure come in handy when capture is more dangerous than what you are doing to evade it.
This Americanized District B13 also stars the same David Belle, and the late Paul Walker in what, unfortunately, will be one of his last roles. (It’s uncertain how his part in the upcoming Fast & Furious 7 will play out.) So it gives one an uneasy feeling to slam a man’s work after he’s gone, but nevertheless, Brick Mansions is a really, really bad film. The good news is that it’s not Walker’s fault by a long shot.
The remake is based on the same script as the original film, by Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri, and it’s the same stereotypical drivel that the once great Besson is becoming best known for. We know the French love their cheese, but this story has extra-stinky helpings of it.
Set in the somewhat futuristic city of Detroit, one district has been fenced in and keeps all of the drug dealers, thieves and other riff-raff away from the greater population. This cordoned area is called Brick Mansions, and Lino Dupree (Belle) is a citizen on the wrong side of the fence who has decided to fight for the side of good by stealing and destroying the drug shipments of one Tremaine Alexander (played by the rapper, RZA), a drug-lord who rules over the criminal element.
Undercover police officer Damien Collier (Walker) is also after Tremaine for the murder of his police officer Father, and he’s sent into Brick Mansions to defuse a nuclear bomb that the bad guys stole and inadvertently activated. Now we’re getting to silly town.
Tremaine has an old Russian rocket that he’s attached to the nuclear device and he’s going to send it back into the main part of the city, along with Lino’s girlfriend, Lola (Catalina Denis), who he has chained to the missile. Lino and Damien must team-up and use their Parkour skills in order to save the girl and the city.
I have to admit that Brick Mansions does have a bit of a bad eighties action-movie type charm to it, and there is at least one awesome line (about rocket scientists and rockets) that is almost worth the price of admission; but the story is so bad and so dumb that its negatives far outweigh its rare entertaining moments.
As far as the showcased Parkour sequences go, the action has that over-used jerky skipped-frame look to it and is so hyper-edited that anyone could be made to look like an acrobatic expert; and it probably does a disservice to David Belle’s real athletic skills.
The film is directed by Camille Delamarre, who is best known for editing films like Taken 2 and Transporter 3, so it’s no surprise that the movie is heavy on creative editing and light on logic or dramatic substance.
Brick Mansions is in the running with 3 Days to Kill (which also has a story by Luc Besson) to be the goofiest action-movie of the year (so far). Don’t hurt yourself watching this one. Grade: 3/10
Photos © 2014 EUROPACORP