Kata Rocks

Film Review: Brick Mansions

I was excited to see Brick Mansions, since it was a remake of one of my favourite action films of the last 10 years – the 2004 French movie District B13.

By Jean-Pierre Mestanza

Thursday 8 May 2014, 09:19AM

Brick Mansions

Starring: Paul Walker, David Belle, and Robert ‘RZA’ Diggs.

Director: Camille Delamarre

Running time: 90 minutes

1 star

With an almost entirely new cast (the exception is David Belle), the new adaptation trades Paris for Detroit, and a neutron bomb for an incredible rocket. The rest of the film is exactly the same, so why then is Brick Mansions so terrible?

The film takes place in a dystopian Detroit (which, let’s admit, is not so different from present-day Detroit) as a collection of abandoned brick mansions are controlled by the most dangerous criminal in the city, Tremaine Alexander (aka Robert ‘RZA’ Diggs from the Wu-Tang Clan).

Tremaine is bent on destroying the city with a large rocket and it's up to undercover cop Damien Collier (Paul Walker) and ex-convict Lino Dupee (David Belle) to stop him.


Both protagonists have their own reasons to take down Tremaine, as Collier wants to avenge his father's death while Dupree wants to recover his kidnapped girlfriend Lola.

The original film served as a showcase for parkour, a training discipline that is used mostly in urban settings and sees practitioners get from one-point to another through a series of flips, jumps, rolls, and other movements (for a good example, watch the opening sequence of 2006's Casino Royale).

While Belle, the founder of parkour, reprises his role as a hoodlum who is an expert at moving around the immediate landscape, his limited English skills deprive him of the small amounts of depth his character needs in this action film.

Also, while Balle's movements are breathtaking,the film's choppy editing and confusing camera angles make it difficult to keep up with the action, meaning many of his amazing moves aren’t fully appreciated.

Action films should be entertaining and easy-to-follow, Brick Mansions is neither of those things. Yes, there are a few good scenes, but none that make it worth the price of admission.

Can we also stop putting the RZA in movies? The legendary hip-hop producer clearly has trouble pronouncing words that include the letter “L” – his thick New York accent takes audiences out of the film. He's simply not believable as an icy, dangerous killer, even with all his brooding.

As a fan of District B-13, I'm offended that this was put into theatres. In fact, this remake needs a remake.



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