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Review: 'Brick Mansions' built upon a very shaky foundation

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Brick Mansions is an urban fable with a message – one huge, messy message. The movie opens on screens Friday (April 25).

Written by Luc Besson, the French writer-director whose trademark has been big sloppy action movies, Mansions goes beyond that. Camille Delamarre directs a movie that ventures into the realm of camp all while trying to play it straight.

That’s the film’s primary problem, you never know whether to laugh at how bad it is or to cry because you’re stuck watching it. Even more problematic: feeling guilty doing so because the late Paul Walker stars in it.

He portrays Damien, an uncover cop in Detroit in 2018. After dealing with bankruptcy, Detroit has become Beirut. However, it may be a wreck, but certain neighborhoods still possess value. Enter Brick Mansions – 20 acres of prime real estate.

The mayor and the city’s movers and shakers would like nothing better than to have that real estate, which has been cordoned off. The inhabitants are left to their own devices (murder, drugs and general mayhem and no access to public services) while the mayor and company plan for a major new development that they hope will revitalize the city.

Brick Mansions de facto leader and resident scumbag – Tremaine (RZA) – runs things with an iron fist and a golden gun. Some, such as Lino (David Belle) resist his scourge, but it seems to be a no-win battle. However, when Tremaine’s thugs hijack an armored car with a neutron bomb on it, it gives law enforcement the chance to go in and shut him down.

They send Damien in to infiltrate Tremaine’s gang giving him fewer than 12 hours. They set things up so that he and Lino are forced to join forces to take Tremaine down.

How they do that is one of many unbelievable scenarios that tries the patience of most sane movie goers who sit through Brick Mansions. In fact there may be too many to count. However, that doesn’t matter.
Brick Mansions will find an audience and there are those who may take to its larger message. Call it Occupy Detroit, but Besson and Delamarre try to make a point with its message of the 1 percent suffering at the hands of those with power. They muff the execution, however.

Walker and Belle do little more than punch, pound and kick their way through the film. Some of the action sequences stun and entertain, but Brick Mansions is little more than an action film built on a suspect foundation.

Movie: Brick Mansions
Director: Camille Delamarre
Cast: Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA
Studio: Relativity Media
Rated: R for frenetic gunplay, violence and action throughout, language, sexual menace and drug material.
Running time: 91 minutes
George’s rating: 2-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com

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