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Movie Review - 'Brick Mansions' falls apart before it ever gets started

Brick Mansions


Missing the beat – I won’t pretend to know everything about how a film makes it to the big screen, but clearly money has something to do with it. Because without that, we would never see that film down the hall that frankly has no business being on the big screen. Sounds harsh, but the fact of the matter is, not every film should make it that far and “Brick Mansions” is yet another example of that.

Paul Walker in "Brick Mansions"
Warner Bros.

What’s it about? The year is 2018 and a section of Detroit has been blocked off with 40-foot walls and abandoned by the city due to unruly crime; essentially left to implode. Problem though, is it’s not happening as fast as the current city legislature would want, so when a small neutron bomb and missile gets stolen by drug lord Tremaine Alexander (Rza), they send in local cop Damien Collier (Paul Walker) to investigate. When he gets there, he is met by Lino (David Belle), a local with his own agenda to bring down Alexander, who has had a stranglehold on any and all happenings within what was dubbed, the “Brick Mansions.” The two form an unlikely alliance to infiltrate and take down Alexander once and for all. Only when they get there, they learn Alexander wasn’t the enemy they thought he was leading to a lackluster conclusion that had the potential for so much more.

Who was in it? I’ll be honest; I only went to see this for Paul Walker, given this was the last film he fully completed before his untimely death. So, clearly I could have cared less what it was about or who else was in it. And that’s a good thing, because outside of Walker, there’s not much to talk about here. In fact, most of this cast is forgettable with the exception of David Belle, the only carryover from the 2004 French film, “District B13.” This guy was intense and very fast as it was mostly him showcasing an effect we don’t often see that much, Parkour. As for his interaction with the rest of this cast, it was good enough considering he primarily has been a stunt man since breaking into the business in 2005’s “Transporter 2.” I mean, there’s really no point in grading a guy like Belle here, when most of what was wrong with this film had nothing to do with the cast. And for what’s it worth, I did see something new here with Paul Walker and how physical he was in some of the action sequences. Sure, he never has or had gone outside his comfort zone, but I always appreciated that about him. He knew his limits and was happy in roles like this and the one we grew accustomed to in the “Fast and the Furious” series. I just wish his last film could have been a little better than what we got here, but unfortunately when talents like him are suddenly taken from us, we don’t get that choice.

Misdirected efforts – Watch the trailer for “Brick Mansions” and you will know everything you need to know. It’s sad, but true for a film that in many ways should have never been released to the big screen; maybe overseas where the original was loved, but not here. This film strikes me as one you stumble upon while scrolling through your satellite and/or cable guide, but don’t actually click on. Sure, one day you will and possibly even like some of what you see, but I highly doubt it. Unfortunately, this film just wasn’t right from the get-go, missing on pretty much everything but the one thing it was made for, Parkour. This art, as I like to call it, is basically the act of swiftly and acrobatically moving through an urban environment using things like walls, windows, fire escapes, roofs and whatnot as your playground. Sounds real cool in concept, because it is, especially when it is used properly throughout the entire film. I just think there was too much of it here and when you did have it, it appeared jumpy as if the setting on the camera was off. That was a mistake in my mind, as director Camille Delamarre could have easily shot those same sequences of Belle and had it look clearer. I get it’s not CGI, but that’s no excuse for the film to still not look half-way decent in post-production.

Bottom Line – Setting aside the reason why I went to see “Brick Mansions,” I still thought it would have been more entertaining overall. Truth is I try to see films for what they are, so when it turns out the way it did here, I run out of things to say.


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