Review: BRICK MANSIONS (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Review: BRICK MANSIONS (2014)

An inferior but fairly entertaining remake of DISTRICT B13.

When BANLIEUE 13 or better known internationally as DISTRICT B13 first broke out in the French cinema in 2004, the concept of parkour (a sport activity where a person uses flexible body movements to overcome all sort of obstacles, such as jumping from rooftop to rooftop) was a novelty art for an action genre. Since then, the art of parkour became increasingly popular when it was also included in several high-profile blockbusters such as 2006's CASINO ROYALE and 2007's DIE HARD 4.0 (known in US as LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD). Now, 10 years after DISTRICT B13, we finally get to see an inevitable Hollywood remake in the form of BRICK MANSIONS. Other than that, BRICK MANSIONS is of course, known as the late Paul Walker's final completed role after his tragic car accident last November.

In the year 2018, a wall has been built in Detriot to separate between the city and the crime-infested public-housing projects known as Brick Mansions. Lino (David Belle, reprising his Leito role from the 2004 original) is an ex-con who has messed up the drugs merchandise owned by the notorious drug lord named Tremaine (RZA). As a result, Tremaine kidnaps Lino's girlfriend, Lola (Catalina Denis) in order for Lino to come out from his hiding and shows himself. Meanwhile, undercover cop Damien Collier (Paul Walker) has been dedicated most of his life trying to bring Tremaine to justice for the murder of his father. His opportunity finally arrived when Damien is recruited to infiltrate Brick Mansions to locate and disarm a neutron bomb stolen from a government transport vehicle by Tremaine's men. In order to get inside, Damien is forced to team up with Lino, who was arrested for killing a cop and both of them subsequently work together to reach their respective goals.

Editor-turned-director Camille Delamarre (best known for editing TRANSPORTER 3, COLOMBIANA and TAKEN 2) knows how to keep the pace fast that the 90 minutes running time in this movie feels like a breeze.

After a decade since DISTRICT B13 and 5 years after its sequel, DISTRICT 13: ULTIMATUM, David Belle remains nimble enough to execute all sort of parkour stunts. He pairs well with Paul Walker, who both share effective rapport as mismatched partners. Speaking of Paul Walker, he is certainly at ease playing this kind of role like a back of his hand. While he may not possess Cyril Raffaelli's agility (who played the original Damien), he manages to even out that particular shortcoming with his energetic acting filled with sheer confidence and fine charisma. Lastly, there's RZA, who is equally playful as the movie's main villain, Tremaine.
The opening scene where Lino uses his parkour skill to escape from Tremaine's men, and the stylish scene where both Lino and Damien doing synchronized back flips after two cars colliding against each other.

Damien Collier: Different method, same result.
If you watch DISTRICT B13, the parkour-related action sequences were beautifully choreographed and well put-together through expert editing and fluid camerawork. Too bad that doesn't happen in BRICK MANSIONS. Sure, there are few stylish scenes where director Camille Delamarre and editors Carlo Rizzo and Arthur Tarnowski manage to execute beautifully, but most of them are downright annoying with the occasional use of sped-up camerawork and hyperactive editing. Because of such reckless method, it's hard for us to appreciate the real-time beauty and the fluidity of the parkour movements throughout the movie. And like DISTRICT B13, the plot is as paper-thin as before with tired action-movie cliches all over the place.

While BRICK MANSIONS may lack the overall execution found in DISTRICT B13, this Hollywood remake remains a moderately fun, B-grade entertainment.

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