Sunday, April 27, 2014

Brick Mansions

Year: 2014
Director: Camille Delamarre
Cast: Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA, Catalina Denis

Plot: An undercover cop teams up with an ex-con to infiltrate Brick Mansions, a neighborhood in Detroit sealed off from the rest of the city, to find a hidden bomb and neutralize it. In their way is a drug kingpin whom both men have a beef with.

Review: Brick Mansions is a remake of French film District 13 which David Belle also stars in as the same character he plays here. This film is also one of Paul Walker's last works before his recent death.

I haven't seen District 13 yet, but as far as Brick Mansions go, it's quite good. It's set in Detroit, where a neighborhood known as Brick Mansions has been walled up, with high security placed around its perimeter. The place is a cesspool of crime, a place where drug kingpin Tremaine is in control. He has recently stolen a neutron bomb which is automatically set to go off in several hours. The mayor sends Damien Collier (Walker), an undercover cop who has a beef with Tremaine, to get inside and find the bomb. His only ally is Lino (Belle), a criminal whose girlfriend has been kidnapped by Tremaine.

Camille Delamarre, an editor for films like Taken 2 and Transporter 3, makes his feature film directorial debut here, and does a fine job overall. Working on Luc Besson's script (he also wrote the original), Delamarre makes the film as kinetic as possible, applying good camerawork and smooth editing to keep things flowing and moving, though he may have made some unnecessary cuts to suit the PG13 rating. Like the original, Brick Mansions displays parkour creator David Belle's skills in running, jumping, climbing and flipping all over the place. Belle's parkour sequence in the opening 5 minutes is pretty damn good.

The acting however is mostly average. Walker and Belle make a good team, with a couple of sparring sequences with each other standing out. RZA hams it up as usual in the role of Tremaine, while Catalina Denis makes good eye candy as Lino's girlfriend Lola, but not much else, except for a couple of fight sequences with Tremaine's female lieutenant.

The film does suffer from several lapses of logic and cliches, like Tremaine's goons having terrible aim, Damien and Lino getting involved in car crashes and hard falls but suffering no injuries etc. The film's ending is also much too perfect, like the law just flew out the window.

But overall, I had fun with this movie. For entertainment purposes, Brick Mansions hits mostly the right notes, and deserves one watch at least. (3.5/5)  

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