Release Date: April 25, 2014
Running Time: 90 minutes
So much for RoboCop being the future of law enforcement in Detroit. In Brick Mansions, producer Luc Besson’s unnecessary Americanization of his 2004 French thriller District 13, crime is so out of control in Detroit that the powers that be wall off a Motor City neighborhood it can no longer police. Paul Walker, in the final film he completed before his sad and untimely death last year, is the honest cop who is tasked with sneaking into Brick Mansions to disarm a nuclear bomb that’s inexplicably fallen into the hands of a blackmail-minded drug kingpin (Wu Tang Clan’s RZA). Walker’s only ally is a Brick Mansions resident who is played by David Belle, the Parkour cofounder who reprises his wall-climbing, building-jumping, bullet-dodging role from District 13. Directed by a pre-Taken Pierre Morel, District 13 was a fun riff on Escape from New York. Belle worked well with Walker’s counterpart, Cyril Raffaelli, because they played complete opposites. The spontaneous Belle relied on his instincts; the methodical Raffaelli preferred to plan ahead, leaving no room for error. Together, they found a middle ground that worked to their and District 13’s advantage. Belle’s heroes in District 13 andBrick Mansions are one and the same. Brick Mansions strips Walker’s character of everything that defined Raffaelli’s by-the-book cop in District 13. You get the sense that Besson and his Brick Mansions director Camille Delamarre just cast Walker so he could reprise his role as the Fast & Furious’ forthright Brian O’Connor under a different name. Regardless, Walker’s given nothing to do in Brick Mansions other than to marvel at Belle’s amazing acrobatics and stare down RZA. This isn’t much of a surprise considering Brick Mansions is a very lazy remake. Besson takes the District 13 script he co-wrote and merely translates it into English. Sure, there are a few differences between District 13 and Brick Mansions, most notably when it comes to RZA’s bad guy, but otherwise they are minor in nature. Besson also cynically introduces a racial component to Brick Mansions that wasn’t present in District 13, but he’s less interested in the social implications and ramification of the creation of a state-sanctioned ghetto than he is in the violence that occurs there. Delamarre takes a workmanlike-approach to Brick Mansions, resulting in an empty, colorless thriller that never distinguishes itself from its source material or justifies its existence. C’est la vie.
Aired: April 24, 2014
Web site: http://brickmansions.tumblr.com/