Camille Delamarre’s “Brick Mansions” is an English-language remake of the French director Pierre Morel’s action thriller “District B-13,” which was released in the United States in 2004. This watered-down American version, similar in many forms, is a huge disappointment.
“District B-13” is inspired by the French-born discipline of parkour, a mix of acrobatics and dance, also known as free running. “Brick Mansions” is nearly identical for the accelerating, gritty and stylish fashion, character names, plot points and car chases. The film stars Paul Walker, who died on November 2013 in a car accident. This is the second-to-last film completed before his death. Walker had already started shooting for the seventh film of the “Fast and The Furious” franchise that will be released in 2015.
“Brick Mansions” is a great example of Walker’s talent. He plays a strong, independent and thrilling character fighting villains. This was his strength — to put his good looks, charming smile and hard work, project the image of an appealing and consistent action hero.
Walker stars as Damien Collier, an undercover detective, in Detroit. of the future. City officials have built enormous walls around slum housing projects known as the Brick Mansions, hoping to keep the filth and crime isolated, thanks to an oppressive mayor played by Richard Zemen.
Collier must team up with a long-time resident of the projects, Lino, played by the co-founder of parkour, David Belle, (“District B-13,” 2004) to take out the drug kingpin who rules these buildings, Tremaine Alexander (Wu-tang Clan’s RZA).
Collier wants to get revenge for the death of his father and Lino wants to rescue his ex- girlfriend Lola (Catalina Denis) who Tremaine holds hostage with a neutron bomb that happens to be armed and counting down. Tremaine is dressed in elegant attire and spends his afternoons chopping up vegetables with a giant cleaver for the gourmet meals he creates. Tremaine has a small army that protects him and would take a bullet for him if they ever enter the premises.
Collier hangs from the back of a speeding car then jumps to the roof of a police car that crashes at 80 mph. Finally he takes charge of a Mustang to outrun Tremaine’s posse. Walker is comfortable in these scenes, but it is discomforting for viewers to watch them now.
Director Delamarre makes this film look unrealistic and over-the-top. There is some lesbian action with Lino’s ex-girlfriend in a sassy waitress uniform and Tremaine’s henchwoman (Yisha Issa), who likes to stroll the projects in black leather clothing and fishnets, but even this doesn’t hold the viewers’ attention.
The action might be intense, but “Brick Mansions” doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is a great disappointment.
“Brick Mansions” is rated PG 13 and runs for one hour and 30 minutes