Published on May 9th, 2014 | by Brad


Brick Mansions – A Film Review

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Brick Mansions is a remake of District B13, a French action movie from 2006, starring Cyril Raffaelli as an undercover police officer and David Belle as a criminal enlisted to help him find a bomb in a walled-off slum in the middle of Paris. The original is thrillingly exciting, with extensive parkour scenes filmed with no digital enhancement or wire work, which have proved extremely influential on the stunt work of a large majority of Western action films in the near-decade that has followed. Of course, as is usually the case with a subtitled foreign film, Hollywood studios have decided that their audiences are too stupid to read the subtitles, and would be uncomfortable with the unrecognisable faces. Enter Brick Mansions, starring the late Paul Walker as the cop and featuring David Belle reprising his role from the original.

This was the last film Walker completed before his sudden death last year, and to be honest, I think it’s only that tragedy that has caused this to hit cinemas at all. This reeks of “straight-to-DVD”, in the worst kind of way. Walker’s own performance is fine, in that sort of generic, vaguely charming way that characterised his career. Belle isn’t great in English, and his stunt work seems to have been toned down and wired up to give the impression that Walker can keep up. As the head of the Brick Mansions drug dealers we have The RZA, proving once again that he cannot, and should not, act.

As I said, the action is severely toned down, as there’s no way Paul Walker was ever going to be able to do the kinds of stunts Cyril Raffaelli was doing in the original. The editing is choppy, and the camera is shaking around like nothing else. It’s typical generic modern action fare, with no sense of peril or excitement.

The one major addition is Aylia Issa as Rayza, a demented lesbian whose sole purpose in the film is to beat up the Lola character, so that The RZA doesn’t have to. Technically, her addition actually helps the film pass the Bechdel Test, as she talks to Lola about her being Brazilian, and the implications that might have on her body hair, but still – adding a female character for the sole purpose of beating up another female character so one of the male characters doesn’t have to is more misogynistic than having the male character hit the female character. Really bugged me.

Like most American remakes of foreign cinema, Brick Mansions is a dismal failure. Boring, horribly acted, terrible action sequences, with an added layer of misogyny for good measure. It’s a shame to be so harsh about the final completed film of an actor I quite liked, but this’ll soon be forgotten like all the rest of Paul Walker’s non-Fast and Furious films. Bring on F&F7 and a more fitting tribute to the man. This is awful.

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