“Brick Mansions” is the American remake of the French movie “District B13,” but it will be better known as Paul Walker’s last movie before his untimely death in late 2013. And in it, Walker does what he always did best: looks cool and fights people.
The plot is simple and predictable: Paul Walker is Damien Collier, an undercover detective in a near-future dystopian Detroit, now the most dangerous place on the planet. Giant walls have been built around run-down housing projects known as, you guessed it, Brick Mansions, in an effort by the city to keep all the crime in one spot. Collier teams up with Mansions do-gooder resident Lino (David Belle) to do, as is so common in movies, one last job, as they aim to take down drug lord Tremaine Alexander (RZA).
As an action movie, it does not fail to deliver. With parkour-fueled fistfights, impossible car chases and slow-motion riddling every other scene, it’s exactly what a brainless action movie should be. There isn’t five minutes that goes by without someone getting punched. Plot, characterization and pacing have no place in this film, and that’s okay. It doesn’t try to be anything more than it actually is. This is a movie made for you to munch on popcorn and drink a soda as you watch, not to contemplate its possible meanings, art direction or character motives. A guy straight up jumps over a building as a bomb explodes behind him. It’s cliche, improbable, yet entirely satisfying.
Acting is wooden and unbelievable, with most of the characters seemingly made entirely of common genre tropes, reflected in their dialogue and behavior. Walker stands out among the bland crowd, which isn’t really saying much. But the movie allows him to be kind of funny, as one part of a mismatched partnership prone to engaging in eye-roll-inducing banter, and his character seems to be driven by actual motivations. The antagonist Tremaine is evil simply because he’s supposed to be, and the archetype is exactly what you would expect, as he dresses expensively and delivers threatening monologues whilst performing mundane tasks like cooking dinner.
The action is the only thing that is serious in this film. It has the good grace to acknowledge its own ridiculousness and roll with it, though it is unfortunate to think that this is Walker’s swan song. In all, you may not want to go out of your way to watch this movie, but if you have got nothing better to do and want to see some explosions, it’s not a bad choice.