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Like a Brick Through a Window – a review of Brick Mansions
Title: Brick Mansions
Production Company: Warner Brothers
Run Time: 90 minutes
Director: Camille Delamarre
Stars: Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA
Summary: Watching this movie will remind viewers of Walker’s tragic loss, but the movie is really a showcase for the talents of actor/stuntman David Belle whose lithe movements are a sight to behold.
Paul Walker’s movies were nothing short of exciting, which makes his loss all the more tragic. The young actor had many good years left in him, judging by the potential he presented to movie going audiences.
Brick Mansions is a case in point. While hardly memorable (or perhaps even good), the film showcased the talents of both stars and would have helped to make David Belle a household name for American audiences.
Instead, this will be remembered as one of Walker’s last movies. A fitting epitaph, perhaps, but even this will fade when the final Fast and Furious movie is completed and released.
Here, though, Walker does what he did best. He plays an undercover cop who drives fast and plays loose with the law.
The story takes place in Brick Mansions, a tenement project in the hinterlands of Detroit which is slated for demolition by the power brokers who want to turn the dilapidated structures into a new high rise complex.
Of course the challenge will be to first remove the infestation of humanity that resides in the territory. You can’t build new until the old has been eradicated.
At the top of the food chain in Brick Mansions is a drug lord who is notoriously ruthless. And when Lino (David Belle) gets hold of his drug stash and flushes it down the sewer trap, Tremaine (RZA) calls out the dogs to hunt him down.
As the plot unfolds (and let me emphasize the point here – the plot is REALLY thin) we find that the powers-that-be have smuggled a bomb into Brick Mansions with the intent of leveling it for the implementation of their future big plan.
But there are double crosses upon double crosses that are exposed throughout the film, leading up to the final fifteen minutes of exposition where all of the rules of cogent and coherent story telling are thrown out the window in favor of a pat ending that’s designed to make you feel good about all of these disreputable character stereotypes.
Even though he’s the star, Walker takes a back seat, though, to the talents of David Belle who has made a name for himself overseas as a master of a style of stunt work called free running.
This is the real reason to see the movie. The opening ten minutes alone are totally breathtaking as Belle manages to elude a slew of pursuers who are hell bent on avenging Belle’s callous disposal of their employer’s product.
Watching him jump, dive, roll and tumble his way across rooftops, up and down stairwells and through open (and closed) windows is almost as fun as watching Jackie Chan’s wall climbing acrobatics in the many adventures of the older star’s filmography.
This movie isn’t so much a compelling story as it a 90 minute advertisement to Hollywood regarding the skill set of David Belle. With any luck, Belle’s phone is ringing even as you read this. The man is certainly talented.
Walker’s exploits are decidedly less compelling, although as a partner and foil for Belle, the two work about as well as the team up between Walker and Vin Diesel in what has become the epitome of action and pathos for the big screen in the Fast and Furious series.
Watching this movie is a lot like attending the wake of a good friend. We remember what we liked about him and commiserate about what the world will miss now that he is gone.
But if you happen to miss this on the big screen, don’t worry. There’s another (and better) round yet to come. R.I.P. Paul Walker. We hardly knew you.
I give Brick Mansions 2-1/2 out of 5 stars.