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‘Brick Mansions’ is a house made of straw

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'Brick Mansions' movie review

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‘Brick Mansions’ is a retelling of widely popular films from France, ‘District B-13’ and ‘District 13: Ultimatum.’ It co-stars Paul Walker and David Belle.

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In ‘Brick Mansions’ 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. Undercover cop Damien Collier (Walker) is determined to bring his father's killer Tremaine (RZA) to justice and every day is a battle against corruption.

For Lino, every day is a fight to live an honest life. Their paths never should have crossed, but when Tremaine 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.

Belle (Belle) who is a founder of Parkour stunts featured in the French films reprises his role using the art of moving through an environment as swiftly and efficiently as possible using only the human body to overcome obstacles stunts. Walker known for his adrenaline infused and action-filled ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise portrays his unwilling partner.

One would like to think that this film would be a fitting tribute to the acting skills of Paul Walker who died tragically on November 30, 2013, in a fiery car crash. Sadly, although the film is brimming with action scenes, it lacks direction and noteworthy acting. Walker is relegated to once again playing an undercover cop who ditches his badge to fight alongside the underdogs of crime.

Actor turned rapper; RZA (WuTang Clan) is unconvincing as a stereotypical drug lord. Try as he might, his performance is less than first-rate. He bellows out lines absent of the ability to convey his emotions. Additionally, his gang of thug enforcers that includes Gouchy Boy are relegated to caricatures of ghetto gangsters as they mete out street justice at his bidding.

First-time director, Camille Delamarre uses the technique of innovative camera drones to get up close and personal to capture the in-your-face fast action depicted on screen. The demise of Detroit is well documented and although the film was shot in Canada if does capture the decay and blight in the once great motor city courtesy of cinematographer Christophe Collette. Yet, these newcomers to film have missed an excellent opportunity to deliver this story to an American audience who love the action-adventure genre.

Despite its title that creates visions of a well-built foundation, ‘Brick Mansions’ suffers from direction and a weak script that is little more than superficial stabs at an insignificant storyline. As cynical as it sounds, one can’t help but think that if its lead actor hadn’t been killed in a terrible accident, that this movie would have gone straight to video. As it stands, it allows fans of Paul Walker to view him on the big screen once again.

‘Brick Mansions’ is rated Rated PG-13 for frenetic gunplay, violence and action throughout, language, sexual menace and drug material. It has a run time of 90 minutes. It opens nationwide April 25, 2014.

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