Genre: Action and Adventure
Director: Camille Delamarre
Cast: Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA
Release Date: April 25th, 2014
Clocking in at a manageable ninety minutes, visit web Brick Mansions is simple in its objective but complicated in its conclusions. Arriving in theaters a mere five months after the death of star Paul Walker, the feature will likely receive publicity for giving Walker his last leading role. The Fast and the Furious actor does a solid job here but the material itself is lacking, leading to one of the dumbest cinematical conclusions I’ve seen in a long time.
Walker stars as Damien, an undercover narcotics detective, whose antics know few limits. After chasing down one criminal, for instance, he delivers that perp to the cops by crashing his car near the local police station and having the criminal fly out through the windshield and onto the police department’s floor. He’s that good. Damien works in Detroit, where the city seems to be separated into two parallel worlds. There are the rich and fancy buildings where the wealthy live and breathe and then there are the brick mansions, where the poor are left to live out their days in despair.
In the isolated world of the brick mansions, the local schools, police offices and hospitals have been shut down by the corrupt mayor who doesn’t want to waste resources on the less fortunate.
Nobody cares about the brick mansions, save for Damien who is looking to avenge his father’s death by bringing his murderer– a local gangster named Tremaine (RZA)– to justice. Tremaine has his share of enemies though and one of them is Lino (David Belle), a man whose ex-girlfriend has been kidnapped by Tremaine and his goons. Damien and Lino eventually team up to stop Tremaine, a cheap gangster who eventually gets his hands on (and knows how to use) a massive bomb and a Russian rocket launcher. (Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me either.)
The action picture attempts to capture the look and feel of other B-movies of the same genre (the types of movies you can find in the discount bin at your local Wal-Mart). Sure, the characters are over the top (Lino, it seems, can jump over any walls he wishes and fly across rooftops) but there’s a certain playfulness to some of the dialogue that keeps the story light-hearted. The problem is, though, that the film is seeking to reveal some powerful truths in its simplistic packaging. It takes itself so seriously at times that it’s hard to enjoy the fun.
During the third act, any credibility or momentum this story has stored up is eliminated altogether when the drama seeks to reveal some greater truths about the rich and poor. It’s during this time when characters who have acted one way through the course of the proceedings become completely different human beings (the criminal with a heart of gold comes into prime focus here). None of the characters in this whole production stand out but the screenplay by Luc Besson (Taken) and Bibi Naceri (both of whom also wrote the screenplay for District B13, which this was adapted from) features a few tongue-in-cheek moments that show this feature’s potential.
Brick Mansions could have been a light and fun B-movie that breezes by but offers a few glimpses of cinematical joy. This movie, though, takes itself too seriously to be what it could’ve been.
Review by: John Hanlon