Brick Mansions (2013)

Rating: **
Review Date: 3/18/17
Cast: Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA, Catalina Denis

"Kick his ass, don't get squashed."

That's pretty much the best advice the film has to offer. "Brick Mansions" is a puzzling, pointless, and watered down remake of "Banlieue 13" (2004) that takes place in Detroit rather than France. In an attempt to control crime, the most dangerous area of Detroit (known as Brick Mansions) is walled off and criminals are sealed inside. Crime lord Tremaine Alexander (RZA) has taken over the streets and is in charge of the lucrative drug trade. French convict Lino (David Belle) wants to clean up the community, while the mayor of Detroit wants to wipe it off the map. Lino and undercover cop Damien Collier (Paul Walker) find themselves working together in Brick Mansions to defuse a bomb and rescue Lino's part-time girlfriend, Lola (Catalina Denis).

Sadly, the energy and athleticism that made the original so fun to watch are almost entirely absent in this film. David Belle is wonderful, but the camera fails to capture his parkour skills and the editing is poor. Also, his dialog sounds like it was dubbed by another actor, which is a constant distraction. Paul Walker isn't a good actor to begin with, and he's not a particularly good stunt performer, either - especially when he's being upstaged by Belle. RZA delivers a surprisingly endearing performance as a villain, and Catalina Denis is both sexy and fierce. While the stunt work is disappointing, the car chases are actually pretty entertaining. Unfortunately, the plot is absurd and makes absolutely no sense if you put any amount of thought into it. I don't recall the original being as nonsensical as this, but I also haven't seen it in about ten years. That said, if you set your expectations appropriately, "Brick Mansions" succeeds as a mind-numbing time waster, but you'd be far better off watching the vastly superior original.