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Brick Mansions is a failure of a film that should be missed.

Alert the peasants to gather their pitchforks and torches. Time to head up to the castle, as it seems Dr. Frankenstein has created another monster and this one is called Brick Mansions. Brick Mansions is based on a French title called District B13 and much like all American adaptions of foreign films, it misses by trying to please the core demographic of movie goers, the teenage boy and young males. As it seems these movie fans have a disproportionate ability to suspend their disbelief and require little in the way of story structure or continuity.

This brick was written by Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri. Besson has many writing credits (nothing outstanding) including the original, where as Naceri has only three credits including this bit of cinematic masonry. Which proves that keeping around the original screenwriter for an American remix of a failed French script guarantees a failed American film.

Directed by virtual unknown Camille Delamarre a Besson protege and former film editor who’s direction is clunky, over wrought, and filled with the techniques of a college student’s first short. The scenes where the fighting is hand to hand has only pipes and sticks for weapons luckily, where the scenes that require gun fire have a seemingly endless supply of guns that never require reloading until it is time for another fist fight at which point there are no more bullets.

Filmed before the death of star Paul Walker this action dominated flick wastes his last efforts completely (sad to say but his death saved him the embarrassment of enduring the release of this film). Walker is undercover narcotics cop Damien Collier who is forced to team up with a street vigilante Lino (David Belle) to retrieve a stolen neutron bomb from inside the walled off section of near future Detroit , known as the Brick Mansions. Walker and Belle’s attempts at acting are happily limited to small sections of the picture where exposition is necessary to clear up the confusion of what the just happened.

David Belle is one of the founders of free running also known as Parkour. For those unfamiliar with Parkour it is a high energy sport involving lots of jumping, swinging, falling, kicking of ass and so on which is great to watch (no CGI or wired harnesses were used in the film all the stunts are real) with your brain turned off which is what I had to do to survive this tripe.

Good thing the bomb has a countdown clock on it so we can track the fake sense of urgency that the doldrums called the second act demand. The quite easily stolen bomb has fallen into the hands of the “Mayor” of this slum, Tremaine (rapper RZA) who now has some leverage to do something other than be a gourmet chef/drug dealer.

As is absolutely mandatory in all formula ridden action flicks there has to be horridly forced acting with some sprinkles of sad sick humor and a love interest that has been taken captive. This time the role of girlfriend Lola, is played by Catalina Denis, a real badass chick that adds a whole cat fight angle to this stinker by having her in constant conflict with Termaine’s woman Rayza (Ayisha Issa) who is as equally beautiful and as badass as Lola, the only difference being that she is always clothed in the latest in hooker apparel for some reason.

But even the cat fights in lingerie can’t help as the pacing of this film is like a game of Rock-em-Sock-em-Robots as Delamarre attempts to distract from the lack of story with endless and meaningless action.


Against all this badassness is the corrupt Mayor of the real Detroit (Bruce Ramsay) who has just about had it with all this contained crime. Yes, the Brick Mansions are not only walled off but completely under control. No one is allowed to go into or out of the dilapidated ruins without crossing through a military check point. Amazingly these check points are under the command of, wait for it… a corrupt commander, who could have guessed that one?

With the threat of having the bomb detonated within the mansion walls Termaine  comes up with an ingenious plan to defeat that sinister plot, he straps the bomb (with duct tape and clothes hangers) to the back of one of the rockets he has lying around and points it right at downtown Detroit, oh no.

If our heroes don’t get there in time against all odds, including a gargantuan Russian thug, the city of Detroit will be blown to pieces, which means that no one anywhere will have decent medical care, police protection or know safety just like the poor citizens of the Brick Mansions. Which is all the drug dealing master chef really wants; he just wants someone to give a damn about all the people he sells drugs to and kills on a whim. Sounds reasonable when you look at it that way, right?

This film left me with a profound feeling. The feeling of wanting my money back so I could spend it all on that claw game in the lobby that picks up stuffed animals, at least I might have won something to take home to my daughters.

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