In 2018, the most dangerous and uncontrollable neighbourhoods of Detroit have been walled off from the rest of the city. Police officer Damien (Paul Walker) is sent into this contained part of the city – along with criminal/vigilante Lino (David Belle) to take down a volatile drug lord who has plans to destroy the entire city.
Brick Mansions is a remake of the 2004 French film District B13, which was also written by Luc Besson and starred David Belle. Although this is Paul Walker’s final finished movie performance, fans of the late actor need not despair; he will appear on our screens in Fast & Furious 7 next year.
Walker really does not have a lot to do here that we have not seen him do before; he’s undercover chasing bad guys, driving at a rate of knots and hitting people. This is what Walker was good at and fans will not be disappointed at his performance here. Sadly though, it’s really nothing new. David Belle is credited as the inventor of parkour, and certainly puts his skills to use in Brick Mansions as he jumps, climbs and runs his way over any obstacle in his path. RZA plays an adequate, cardboard cut out villain, and does fine with the role, even though he is almost always cooking when big plot points are being revealed.
Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri’s screenplay hints at a deeper reason for the film, like maybe a message about segregating people, corruption and poverty, but sadly the film never goes past hinting at these ideas. The dialogue is expository and clunky, and it is easy to see where the film is headed. As well as this, there really seems to be no concrete idea as to the time frame of the film; it could take place in 24 hours, 24 days or 24 weeks; the only clue is the clothing that one of the hostages wears, which stays pretty clean, hinting at a short enough time frame.
Director Camille Delamarre has had a fairly successful career as an editor; working on the likes of Taken 2, Lockout and Transporter 3, so it makes sense that the set pieces, car chases and parkour sequences of the film look and feel pretty great. The trouble is that the rest of the film suffers from over acting, under emoting and some horribly clichéd characters, making it hard to forgive the former part of the film for the sins of the latter.
Brick Mansions could have been a great examination of modern day apartheid, segregation and poverty. Instead it is a rather silly film that feels a little like the over the top Bond movies of yore. Walker and Belle do fine, but they are never really given a chance to make Brick Mansions an over acted, dumb thriller, with some decent set pieces thrown in.