Review: Paul Walker in Brick Mansions

Brick Mansions is likely to be the most bittersweet watch of the year. Whilst it serves as thoroughly entertaining showcase of the late Paul Walker's charisma and skills as an action star - it is also a sad reminder that he will no longer be shining on screen. Filled with the actor's charm, strong action set-pieces and tongue-in-cheek comedy Brick Mansions is a fitting tribute to the late-great action star.

Produced by Luc Besson's EuropaCorp, Brick Mansions serves as a remake of Pierre Morel's District 13. Now the action is transported from Paris to Detroit, where undercover detective Damien Collier (Walker) is sent into the contained ghettos of the city with the help of a parkour-practician ex-con (original star David Belle) in order to bring down a crime lord (RZA) and his plot to devastate the entire city.

Brick Mansions is the sort of film that you could see The Cannon Group making in the late-eighties: it is not the most impressive cast or director and does not have the freshest narrative - but it is packed full of fun and has plenty of ambition and character. Besson's screenplay is chock-full of laughably bad dialogue - see a stone-faced RZA saying lines like: 'You don't need to be a rocket scientist, you just need a rocket,' - and plot developments that have about as much subtlety as a six-hundred pound man wielding a sledge-hammer. Despite this, Brick Mansions has a fun, carefree vibe that suggests everyone is in on the joke and it embraces these clichés with vigour.

A lot of this fun atmosphere rests on the pairing of Walker and Belle, whose characters both approach each new challenge with polar-opposite attitudes leading to some amusing bickering and fish-out-of-water action scenes like Damien attempting freestyle jumps from rooftops etc. David Belle's parkour skills are staggeringly impressive albeit handled in a way that relies on a real suspension of disbelief, whilst Walker handles the more conventional action from shoot-outs on car bonnets to old-fashioned fist fights. Despite the fact that much of the action relies on edit-suite trickery (The Raid this is not), Brick Mansions presents modestly entertaining set-pieces that are always competent and relatively engaging. There is also a somewhat contrived human element - that gains a slight sense of poignancy through Walker's sad passing - seen through the sweet relationship between Damien and his Grandfather.

There are moments of trashy delight through highly-charged fights from Ayisha Issa and Catalina Denis featuring enough chains to make you think you were in an S&M club. RZA's near-iconic performance further adds to this amusing vibe - as the committed actor attempts to bring some sort of gangster swagger to the film's villain who has a penchant for cooking exquisite cuisine.

Brick Mansions is far from an action masterpiece, but Walker and co. add enough heart and vigour into proceedings to make things continually entertaining. It is a terrifically fun romp with as much laughs to boot as slick action sequences.


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