REVIEW — “Brick Mansions”
Even though this is the last production Paul Walker ever finished there’s no reason to sugar coat a review. This is a made-for-TV story, but given a theatrical release. With a modest budget, bad acting, weak/lazy writing, and repetitive and outdated choreography there isn’t much to offer true fans of action that a TNT Friday night special can’t already give you.
The remake of “District B13” took everything that made that film great, a DECADE ago, and just copy/pasted it. They took the lead actor, David Belle (founder of Parkour), and changed his character name slightly from Leito to Lino, but never thought to get him an acting coach. However, his line delivery is only slightly weaker than Paul Walker who, despite having spent over 15 years in Hollywood, never fully committed to the craft enough to shed his valley boy persona. Some say this gives him a charm and charisma other actors lack, but I think it just shows what people are willing to settle for. Despite Walker’s bad acting you can tell he really poured himself into this role physically, and his on-screen personality will be missed in the future (he always seems like he’s having a blast). Rza, director of such ‘hits’ as “The Man with the Iron Fists,” spends yet another hour and a half preaching all of his lines instead of speaking them normally. If this was something like “Les Miserables” it would be understandable, but his style never changes from picture to picture. He reads each line of the script like poetry, and it doesn’t provide any realism to the characters he portrays.
The action scenes, at least the ones involving Parkour, were well choreographed, but are immensely dated. Parkour is like 3D: It’s a gimmick. You can’t build a quality story around JUST that. There will never be a way to make an action sequence realistic in which there are a dozen people standing around with guns, but no one fires a single shot at the guy jumping through a narrow hallway. Add to this some “Raid” length fight scenes and beatings, minus the brutality, and you have some uninspired and boring beat downs. Everything in between the Parkour scenes, like the lame ass car chases, awful shootouts and terribly clichéd expositions, prove that director Camille Delamarre (now unsurprisingly set to direct “Transporter 4”) isn’t going to make it in the action genre.
When you take out the bad acting and weak action scenes what are you left with? A shit story. The entire thing is more or less one big action genre cliché, but not in a good way. There are some, like “Lockout,” that give a wink to the audience to let them know that they are doing this on purpose, but “Brick Mansions” is setup to be a genuine contribution to the genre, and it fails miserably. The weak, maybe even lazy, writing really takes it down several notches, and doesn’t leave the audience thinking anything unexpected might happen. One moment is when Rza says he needs two people alive, and the very next scene EVERYONE is shooting at them (one with a big ass machine gun that NEVER leaves ANY signs of damage ANYWHERE).
Something with weak writing, bad acting, and boring action scenes is right on par with what I would expect from a typical Paul Walker flick (“The Death and Life of Bobby Z”). Despite being a great human being he was always a crap actor, and with only a handful of projects to his name worth mentioning (“Running Scared” is my personal favorite) “Brick Mansions” can be cataloged as another miss. This isn’t the thing people should remember him for as it really isn’t worth anyone’s time to see (outside of it just being his last project he completed). He should be remembered for his philanthropic work, dedication to friends and family, and his passion for life. Catch this one at home if you want to show him some love. 1.5/5