Brick Mansions is a remake of French franchise starter District B13. The co-writer of the French film serves as its producer. If you have seen District B 13, don't get your hopes high. Also, don't get your hopes high based on the fact that Brick Mansions is the last film that Fast & Furious' talented star Paul Walker completed before he died in a car crash next year.
The thing is, you are likely to be disappointed, say critics. The film is bad, Paul Walker is good. And we will miss him.
Now, for the film's story. "It's 2018, and Detroit is under martial law, Brick Mansions is sealed behind checkpoints and security walls, and the mayor and his cronies have cooked up a shady redevelopment scheme. Standing in the way of their plans is Tremaine Alexander (RZA, still best known as one of the masterminds of the Wu-Tang Clan), a narcotics kingpin with an army of hooligans and a serious interest in cooking. Lino and the rugged undercover cop Damien Collier (Paul Walker) are dispatched to take care of Tremaine, who killed Damien's father and has taken Lino's former girlfriend, Lola (Catalina Denis), as a hostage," writes New York Times' reviewer AO Scott.
Why's it bad?
With that kind of a socially relevant plot, the film could have been an allegory on class and race. The film's director, Camille Delamarre, turns it into a video game where people are running and jumping so fast, it is hard to make out what they are doing.
"Brick Mansions is a bad movie, basically an aerobics class in search of an action-thriller plot, notable only because it's one of the last movies made by Paul Walker… If nothing else, it's consistent - consistently stupid, with things like character development and story advancement never getting in the way of another parkour stunt," writes Bill Goodykoontz of Arizona Republic.
Now, for the parkour stunts. Writes Scott, "One of the film's main reasons for being is to provide a showcase for David Belle, also a star of B13 and one of the originators of the acrobatic martial art known as parkour. It involves a lot of running along walls and leaping through stairwells and has been an action-movie staple for almost a decade, and Belle turns parts of Brick Mansions into a master class. He plays Lino, a European expatriate living for some reason in the housing projects that give the film its title and annoying the drug dealers who run the place."
Walker's the good part
What really works in the favour of the film is Walker. As Entertainment Weekly's Adam Markovitz writes, "Walker, in one of his final roles, radiates the same golden-boy charisma that warmed the Fast & Furious series. But as the bar of realism in the film lowers (of the approximately 1 quadrillion bullets fired in the movie, only one manages to graze Walker's ear) so will your patience, until you're half-tempted to try flipping your way out of the theatre."
Goodykoontz concurs, "Walker has more charisma than the rest of the cast combined, but he's not given much to work with beyond cop-movie clichés and, once in a great while, some self-deprecating humor, which is an oasis in this desert of bland ideas."