Brick Mansions (2014)

Final Rating: 2.8/10

District 13 was an interesting film that showcased the battle between the poor and contained against the wealthy and powerful. It used parkour, the art of fast paced stunts involving city props and architecture, as a modern reflection on the kung fu and martial arts films that came before it. It may not have been a perfect film, bit it was certainly a very fancy film.

This is not District 13, however. This is Brick Mansions.

Appropriately named, as it feels like a project full of wealth but with little thought process, Brick Mansions is a remake of the aforementioned French film, yet Camille Delamarre’s French-Canadian rendition feels like it is a summary made with one hell of a powerpoint presentation. The story is brushed past so quickly that you feel like you are in pursuit of the character Lino (played by parkour ninja David Belle) and are just as underpowered as anyone who tries to outmatch him.Unfortunately, this is one of the late Paul Walker’s last films, and while he does do a good job, apart from Walker, Belle and Rza (who plays the film’s antagonist, so it seems) of whom turn in decent performances, no one else feels real and that is largely due to the insanely awkward dialogue: Another trope of the film’s mind boggling script (which was, surprisingly, co-written by Luc Besson). The one liners are throwaways, the serious talk sounds as though it came from a play put on by the local high school, and the jokes are almost always painful. With a really embarrassing breaking of the fourth wall (they knew damn well we were there and they still had the gall to test the waters), Rza’s character makes a joke that references a song by Wutang Clan (because he’s a member of that group. Of course. That’s all of the reasoning you need), as he says “Well that’s because cash rules everything around me” and further asks if we recalled that saying. Yes we do, Rza. We recall a time where industries took you more seriously, and I really have no idea why they aren’t now.

Aside from the passable acting from the leads, there is one last glimmer of hope that is, of course, squashed (it’s at least there, right?): The rushed purpose of the film at the end. When the tables are turned and the powers are swapped, we get a bit of an interesting question on society, the separation of classes, and what it means to be a criminal. Well, that interesting concept comes far too late and is squandered by over-the-top sequences. That isn’t to say that the action scenes aren’t good: They are, in fact, a bit intriguing. You do wish to see more. We wish to see more parkour, which feels a bit limited in this film despite the presence of David Belle). We wish to see more to Paul Walker’s character’s story, since Walker plays the role with a bit of a mysterious attitude (we get that he’s seeking revenge, but there still feels like there is something else to his character). We wish to get more story in general, instead of being barked at that this place is a closed off section of the city, these men are seeking vengeance, and the area of Brick Mansions is only bad because of how under loved it is.For a film so stubbornly cliched, it still feels underwhelming.

Brick Mansions ends with the kind of hope the filmmakers had for the film. It ends trying to salvage the rest of the movie. Nothing can be done when the pairing of Walker and Belle is so uncomfortable because of how late into the film their introduction is (especially with how quickly it happens). Nothing can be done when plot holes are answered with tossed in plot devices (How does this character get a rocket? Through military connections, of course). Nothing can be done when the film begins and everything feels typical instantly. It’s an ironic comparison that Brick Mansions is a remake of District 13, because it honestly feels like the outside world was preying in on the smaller world because of greed. If you want to see Walker, Belle and Rza at their bests, there are ways of doing so that don’t involve this film.

About author

Former Film Editor & Music Writer at Live in Limbo. Co-host of the Capsule Podcast. A Greek/South African film enthusiast. He has recently earned a BFA honours degree in Cinema Studies at York University. He is also heavily into music, as he can play a number of instruments and was even in a few bands. He writes about both films and music constantly. You should follow him on Twitter @Andreasbabs.