Here’s a movie for anyone wanting cinematic closure from the late Paul Walker, at least until his final FAST AND FURIOUS… And it can also serve to quench SPIDERMAN fans since David Belle’s resilient criminal Lino leaps around in the same frantic fashion...
[Brick Mansions](movie:957731) is named after an extremely dilapidated part of town that no one wants to talk about or deal with, especially politicians... It's become a dangerous harbor for RZA’s drug dealing villain, Tremaine, who hijacked a neutron bomb and is threatening to blow up the better parts of Detroit if he’s not given a large sum of money…
Sounding more like James Bond than an energetic action thriller, MANSIONS is actually an urban Kung Fu flick that gives Belle a chance to show off his hyperactive fighting skills to a mainstream American audience.
That's not to say Walker’s vengeful cop Damien doesn’t pull his own weight… Ironically and not surprisingly, he’s into really fast cars: This ranges from driving them around to hanging off the back when someone else is driving. And while this is a substantial Paul Walker vehicle, providing the actor his usual slowburn to hot tempered persona throughout, it feels like he was highlighting Belle's talents, who co-starred in the original French movie, DISTRICT B13, rather than sustaining his own FURIOUS fan base.
The best scenes occur when Walker and Belle work as a physically synchronized team within the heavily guarded location (reminiscent of the urban fortress from Walter Hill’s TRESPASS, with taller buildings), eventually fighting an eclectic mix of brainless heavies. Meanwhile, the rap-blasting brawls supersede the peripheral threat of that ticking bomb strapped to a rocket, a plot device ultimately serving a clichéd 11th hour twist that, in bringing together the Good, Bad and Ugly, makes everything else seem futile... But it's a fun ride before they get all serious.
Movie Score: *** out of *****
By James M. Tate
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