A loose remake of the French action film District 13, Brick Mansions is likely to be known as nothing more than the last completed film of Paul Walker. With his work in the Fast and Furious franchise, and lesser known features like Running Scared, Walker was arguably proving himself as a charismatic action star and something like this is a respectful enough send-off to his fans and followers with the film shying away from anything overly bloody, perhaps in a bid to appeal to the broadest mass.
Set in a not-too-distant futuristic Detroit in a secluded housing project, Walker stars as Damien Collier, a narcotics officer with a typical grudge against the man responsible for his father’s death, powerful drug lord Tremaine Alexander (RZA). Also seeking out Tremaine is Lino Dupree (David Belle), a wrongfully accused criminal hoping to rid his neighbourhood of the rampant drug problem that currently reigns supreme. It’s far from high-art but it’s evidently clear from the get-go that ‘Brick Mansions’ intends to be nothing more than a kinetic thrill-ride – with extra cheese thrown in for good measure.
Belle, who appeared in the French original, is a marvel to watch and he really is one of the main reasons this film is as enjoyable as it is. A founder of the holistic disciplinary body training known as Parkour, a style of action frequented heavily throughout, Belle is alarmingly impressive given it’s his first English language feature, and the chemistry that’s bounced between him and Walker is one of the stronger ingredients. RZA isn’t as strong an actor, but to be fair he’s aware of this and it does nothing to detract from the evident fun he’s having playing the stereotypical villain. The actors all seem aware of the preposterous film they’re making, so naturally they go along with it in the name of entertainment.
Luc Besson’s script is alarmingly ludicrous, and the film’s heavy-handedness on the class differences between the rich and the poor is so insultingly blatant that you can’t help but accept the film for the goofy piece of fluff that it is. Walker deserves a better send off than this, and thankfully there’ll be enough of him in the upcoming ‘Fast and Furious 7’ to leave a better taste in people’s mouths regarding his on-screen legacy, but as far as pleasures go ‘Brick Mansions’ is deliriously guilty.
Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Brick Mansions is out on DVD now.