It's always a very sad affair when a much beloved actor passes away before his time, it's even sadder when the marketing and the tone of what will end up being his second to last movie ends up missing the mark and won't be what audiences may have expected. "Brick Mansions" is an entertaining action romp that ultimately doesn't take itself too seriously, but it also holds a little too closely to the source material of the original French films which are 10 years old.
In a dystopian Detroit, abandoned brick mansions left from better times now house only the most dangerous criminals. Unable to control the crime, the police constructed a colossal containment wall around this area to protect the rest of the city. For undercover cop Damien Collier (Paul Walker) every day is a battle against corruption. For Lino (David Belle), every day is a fight to live an honest life. Their paths never should have crossed, but when drug kingpin, Tremaine (RZA) kidnaps Lino’s girlfriend, Damien reluctantly accepts the help of the fearless ex-convict, and together they must stop a sinister plot to devastate the entire city.
A movie that just doesn't take itself all that seriously, "Brick Mansions" works if you can just suspend your disbelief and go along for what is somewhat of a goofy ride, but it also feels like it should have been made several years ago, as the action sequences are less impressive these days in a world post "The Raid", Marvel movies and even the recent entries into the "Fast & Furious" franchise.
Director Camille Delamarre comes from the Luc Besson machine of film making having been an editor on several of his productions. The action is fast paced and fun to watch, but it comes off as a little too cartoonish at times as well, lacking any genuine gravitas. It's a film that we seemingly enjoyed anywhere from 5 to 10 years ago and as it is over the top in some parts, but it takes itself a little too seriously in others. Killing cops one second, and then making some very telegraphed puns the next and it never quite mastering a genuine tone one way or the other. The script from Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri managed to sneak in a few jokes for the stars to poke fun at themselves which for the most part work, and the ensemble at least tries to buy into the nature of it all.
Paul Walker plays the blond haired, square jawed noble action hero with the best of them, and this entry is really no different as he gets to flash great looks and using his piercing eyes to stare people down. He truly was on his way to being the prototypical every man action star ready to jump from the B-List to the A-List and we were treated to flashes of it here as he had a good grasp of the over the top nature of the material. David Belle isn't all that known to North American audiences (with the exception of kind of looking like "How I Met Your Mother" star Josh Radnor) and he steps back into the role that gave him some fame, take Leito and turning him into Lino...essentially the same guy. RZA isn't necessarily the best at being a menacing villain but much like Walker, understood the nature of the material and rolled with the punches as best he could.
Ultimately, "Brick Mansions" is a fun action romp of a movie that you won't shut off on a lazy Sunday afternoon or will ultimately cue up on Netflix and get a kick out of it, but it lacks any vitality or even genuine originality to be remembered immediately after you see it, no matter what the venue.
2 out of 5 stars.
"Brick Mansions" is now playing at theatres across the country, please check with your local listings for show times.