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Brick Mansions




Brick Mansions (PG-13)
Film Reviews

05/01/14
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



 Fun fact: In the French film, a violent Paris ghetto is sealed off in the distant dystopian future of 2010 with the meat of that film taking place in far-off 2013.

Here, it’s Detroit (as always) that has fallen into terrible ruin, decay and lawlessness. A crowded but crime-plagued neighborhood of brick mansions has been walled off from the rest of the city and left to fall prey to drug dealers and their violent enforcers. 
Lino (David Belle, playing pretty much the same character he did in the French film) thwarts the dealers when he can. After destroying a suitcase full of drugs, he is on the run from K2 (Gouchy Boy), a lieutenant for Tremaine (RZA), the de facto ruler of brick mansions. Tremaine has K2 track down Lola (Catalina Denis), Lino’s ex-girlfriend who he smuggled out of brick mansions. After much parkour and a car chase, Lino winds up thrown in jail by the corrupt police officers guarding the checkpoint between brick mansions and free Detroit. 
Some time later, Damien (Walker), a police officer who is determined to clean up Detroit and to avenge the death of his police office father, is called on to go into brick mansions to disarm a bomb that threatens to level the entire area. The bomb, so Damien is told by the mayor and head of the police, was stolen by Tremaine and his men. Because Lino is Damien’s best guide for finding the difficult-to-pin-down Tremaine, Damien and Lino are thrown together in a prison transfer van, where Damien pretends to break himself out to gain Lino’s trust. Eventually, after some more parkour-flavored fancy bad-guy-felling footwork, Damien and Lino agree to team up to find Tremaine so that Lino can rescue Lola and Damien can prevent the deaths of the thousands of people who live in brick mansions.
The time that passes between Lola’s capture and the Damien-Lino rescue mission is either hours or months — I couldn’t tell but neither really answers the question of why she remains tied to a chair in one of Tremaine’s lairs long after Lino has already been disposed of. This is one of the movie’s many logic holes. Another? Damien isn’t suspicious of city officials when they suddenly show deep concern about an area of the city housing people they’ve basically imprisoned. Then there’s the question of why Damien’s services are needed at all — does a neutron bomb really need somebody touching the physical bomb to detonate or deactivate it? Having a massively destructive weapon that requires some poor schmo to push a button on the weapon itself would seem to be a pretty big design flaw. 
The movie’s plot shakiness is a fairly good example of Brick Mansions’ overall level of attention to/giving-of-a-flying-Frenchman-about details. Describing the performances, which include actual snarls from the villains, as “not quite adequate” would still be overly generous and the writing is hokey and weak even by B-level action movie standards. 
That said, Brick Mansions isn’t terrible? I pose that as a question because I suppose it depends on what you were hoping for. This is one of many seemingly identical performances from Walker, playing a role not unlike the way his Fast & Furious character started out. Belle jumps around just fine, seeming nearly as nimble as I remember him being 10 years ago. There is shooting (terrible, nobody-hits-their-mark shooting), there is punching, there are just-in-time escapes. There is nothing fresh about Brick Mansions (it doesn’t have the pluck I remember from the first movie, but then that was 10 years ago, so who knows if I’m even accurately remembering it), but there’s nothing aggressively off-putting about it either, particularly if what you are looking for is shooting, punching and just-in-time escapes. 
This isn’t a glorious swan song for Walker, who died in November during filming on Fast & Furious 7,   but fans will probably enjoy one more chance to see him in the kind of role for which he is best known. C
Rated PG-13 for frenetic gunplay, violence and action throughout, language, sexual menace and drug material. Directed by Camille Delamarre and written by Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri, Brick Mansions is an hour and 30 minutes long and distributed by Relativity Media. 
 
As seen in the May 1, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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