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Film Reviews Brick Mansions: Paul Walker film is a non-starter that chokes on déjà vu

1.5 out of 4 stars

Written by
Luc Besson, Bibi Naceri
Directed by
Camille Delamare
Starring
Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA
Classification
PG
Country
France/Canada
Language
English
Year
2014

One of the last films from Paul Walker (The Fast and the Furious), who died last November in a car accident, Brick Mansions is a remake of Luc Besson's 2004 French action movie, District B13.

It's set in a Detroit dystopia, where a walled-off area of the city houses the city's worst criminals. In a set-piece overture sequence, rule-bending undercover detective Damien Collier's (Walker) assignment is to infiltrate the area to take out gang kingpin Tremaine (rapper RZA), who is threatening to deploy a stolen neutron bomb.

The detective's assigned sidekick is Mansions denizen and ex-con Lino, played by David Belle, one of the inventors of parkour, the sport of urban object course running, featured in the first film. Lino, an anti-drug thorn in Tremaine's side, wants to rescue his girlfriend Lola (Catalina Denis) from Tremaine's gang's especially sadistic lesbian dominatrix, Rayzah (Ayisha Issa), though that description makes the movie sound more exciting than it is.

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While Belle's acrobatic stunt work is still impressive a decade later, Brick Mansions is a non-starter: It chokes on its déjà vu, the hyperactive Mixmaster editing is exhausting and the characters' banter is so leaden it might violate federal emission standards.

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