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Rugger Review: Brick Mansions


Summary: A cop (Paul Walker) must join forces with a con (David Belle) to break into Brick Mansions, a sealed off part of Detroit which houses the poorest citizens, to stop a crime lord from using a stolen bomb against the city.

It’s a very rare occurrence to experience boredom in the cinema. The darkness and a huge screen usually blend well to keep your focus on the film.

Unfortunately boredom was the only emotion I experienced during Brick Mansions, an unnecessary remake of French film District 13 (2004). Both are produced by Luc Besson, which makes you wonder what his thought process was behind this.

What makes it even more pointless, is the fact that it brings across the original films main draw, Parkour expert David Belle, and then precedes to remake that movie, shot for shot, with English speaking actors instead of French.

We’ve been inundated with remakes for the past decade, some good (Ocean’s Eleven, The Departed) and some just pure awful (every horror movie remake). But most at least attempt to bring something new to the table, which Brick Mansions never even tries.

From literally copying it shot for shot, to re-casting actors in the same roles (I counted at least two) and even keeping the same character names, Brick Mansions looks complete devoid of any fresh ideas.

If you’ve seen District 13 and can handle that films subtitles, then you can skip Brick Mansions. The only reason this has been made is for those who, for some reason, can’t watch a foreign film.

It is a shame that this is Paul Walkers final, completed film (He will appear in Fast and Furious 7 but passed away before filming had ended). For while he was never critically lauded as an actor, there is no denying his screen presence and personality shine through and he is without a doubt the only redeeming quality of Brick Mansions.

The simple plot involves Walker’s cop Damien going undercover into Brick Mansions with Lino, a con who grew up there. The mission is to stop a rocket being shot at the city and save Lino’s girlfriend.

While the action is fine, and plentiful, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, especially if you have seen the original. Belle’s free-running was the cause for District 13 being made, but that was ten years ago and Parkour is nowhere near as popular today.

The acting is nowhere near acceptable either. Walker does his best with the script but Belle has been horribly dubbed over with an American accent, Vin Diesel’s no less, making every line unintentionally hilarious. And whoever keeps letting RZA near a movie set needs fired.

Brick Mansions should have been a fun time, the silly-ness of its plot and simplicity of its execution should have allowed the cast to enjoy themselves which they don’t seem to be doing. It’s all a little too serious, which makes it difficult to take pleasure in.

Final Verdict: A remake that didn’t need made, Brick Mansions fails to bring anything fresh to our screens, instead completely rehashing the original film to a point where you could watch both side by side and see very little difference. Paul Walker, and film fans in general, deserve so much better. Rent District 13 instead.

Star Rating: 1/5

* Review by Stephen Connolly



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