Ten years after District 13 came out and started the parkour trend, we finally have an American remake starring David Belle, the creator of parkour, and the late Paul Walker. Brick Mansions stands to be Paul Walker’s final complete film before his untimely death. Regardless of what you think of Paul Walker’s acting talent, we have an action movie starring the creator of the latest action movie fad and a script by Luc Besson, who has put out an equal amount of both fantastic and mediocre action movies. Their last attempt at this together was fantastic, so what could go wrong?
An easy answer would be everything, but that would unfairly judge the excellent practical stunts and action scenes throughout the movie. As I keep saying, David Belle invented parkour, so the physicality he brings to the screen as he moves through the environment is second to none. But everything else in the movie is terrible, and this is coming from a big fan of dumb action movies. This isn’t simply a brain dead action romp, it’s a movie devoid of competent writing and the passion that makes bad movies fun to watch.
I’ve enjoyed Paul Walker’s various roles throughout the years. Sure, he was never an amazing actor, but he brought an energy to his roles that you couldn’t help but admire. His performance in Brick Mansions, which is mostly due to the script, is the hyperfocused epitome of every criticism of everything he’s ever starred in. Characters change motivations and allegiances at random points for seemingly no reason. Die hard convictions that have been held for what the movie says is years are abandoned due to single lines. This feels like a novice screenplay, not a remake of a ten year old movie.
Brick Mansions boils down to a series of interesting set pieces strung together with contrived reasons why they should occur. This isn’t a story someone wanted to tell, but just an excuse to do some parkour and action sequences. The Expendables and Machete understood how to make a good, dumb action movie. Brick Mansions is on par with their sequels, and, in the one bright spot of its existence, does have an original to fall back on, but the target audience isn’t going to watch a French film.
I truly wish that my only problem with Brick Mansions was its close release to that of The Raid 2, but not even a vacuum could save the terrible script at the heart of this disaster. This was a movie I had not only been hearing about for years (I had a friend who was a big fan of the original when it came out), but I was excited to finally see some version of District 13 on the big screen, with Paul Walker and the original star as well. This could have easily filled the dumb action itch that the Fast and Furious movies usually scratch, but sadly we’re just left with a forgettable mess that will be the last full film for an actor who never got the credit he deserved.
In Theaters: April 25, 2014
Runtime: 90 min
Rating: Rated PG-13 for frenetic gunplay, violence and action throughout, language, sexual menace and drug material
Director: Camille Delamarre
Cast: Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA, Gouchy Boy, Catalina Denis, Ayisha Issa
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Distributor: Relativity Media
Official Site: https://www.facebook.com/brickmansionsmovie