Paul Walker’s untimely death in November of last year cut short a fast and furious career. The handsome leading man specialized in high-octane movies that often valued action over story. The “Fast and Furious” films made him a star and defined his testosterone-steeped genre. His new film, “Brick Mansion” is another pedal-to-the-metal actioner that could easily have been titled “The Fast and the Frenetic.”
Based on a ten-year-old French movie called “District 13,” this time around the story is set in Detroit just a few years from now. The film largely takes place inside a walled off, run down neighborhood called Brick Mansions. The bankrupt city has abandoned the area, leaving it to Tremaine (RZA), a drug lord who rules his mini kingdom with an iron fist. When he comes in control of a neutron bomb, undercover cop Damien Collier (Walker) is teamed with anti-drug crusader and parkour expert Lino (David Belle) to find the bomb and Tremaine in just ten hours.
“Brick Mansions” is the kind of movie where the hero says, ‘This is a really bad idea,” before doing some crazy, dangerous stunt. The action and story (by Luc Besson) are by-the-book—the “find the bomb!” plotline boils down to the oldest thriller tricks, the ticking bomb—but are performed with zeal by Walker and Belle, who is one of the inventors of parkour. The stunts are wild, although shot in such a frenetic style it is occasionally hard to keep track of who is punching who.
Walker is suitably stoic as the straight-arrow undercover cop. He’s physical—flipping through the air like a Cirque du Soleil gymnast without mussing his perfect hair—and doesn’t step out of his (and his audience’s) action movie comfort zone.
In fact, no one goes too far out of their comfort zones. RZA is brings some menace to Mr. “I don’t do anxious. I cause anxious.” Tremaine, and Belle never saw a window or an opening he couldn’t swing through feet first.
Despite having one of the silliest feel good endings in the history of action movies, “Brick Mansions” is an engaging movie. It won’t engage your brain, but is wild enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen.