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BRICK MANSIONS (director/writer: Camille Delamarre; screenwriters: Luc Besson/based on the screenplay “Banlieue 13” by Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri; cinematographer: Christophe Collette; editors: Carlo Rizzo/Arthur Tarnowski; music: Trevor Morris; cast: Paul Walker (Damien Collier), David Belle (Lino Dupree), RZA (Tremaine Alexander), Goûchy Boy (K2), Catalina Denis (Lola), Carlo Rota (George the Greek), Bruce Ramsay (Mayor), Ayisha Issa (Rayzah), Robert Maillet (Yeti); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Claude Leger/Jonathan Vanger; Relativity Media; 2014)
“A disposable unsavory action film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A remake of the 2004 French film “District B13,” as the English-version is set in Detroit instead of Paris. The ghetto action pic is unevenly directed by the former editor of the “Taken 2” and “Transporter 3”, Camille Delamarre, in his directing debut. The ugly, exploitative film is based on the story by Luc Bresson and Bibi Naceri, with Bresson writing the script. It features one of the last roles of Paul Walker, who died recently in a car crash.

This is a disposable unsavory action film along the lines of Fast and Furious, but without such charm. Instead there are kidnappings, car chases, street fights, a fight with a 7-foot giant (Robert Maillet), and a tiresome save the city mission to prevent a bomb from being launched. It lacks is character development, realism, and a story that makes sense. Its hipster attitude is annoying, as it tries to show how drug dealers are better than the crooked city officials.

It’s set in the near future of 2018, in a rundown Detroit. The city abandoned a once thriving centrally located neighborhood called ‘brick mansions’ and that area is now ruled by drug lords and eyed by venture capitalists as a place to invest for the wealthy if only its current impoverished mostly black tenants could be removed as promised by the mayor. Unable to control the area from the dangerous criminals, the desperate city built a giant wall around it and the army has barricades to prevent entry. Superhero undercover cop Damien Collier (Paul Walker) infiltrates one major drug lord in Brick Mansions, George the Greek (Carlo Rota), and heroically brings him down. The shady mayor (Bruce Ramsay) then assigns Damien to bring down the powerful drug lord Tremaine Alexander (RZA) and his flunky sidekicks K2 (Goûchy Boy) and his depraved macho leather & chain wearing womanally Rayzah (Ayisha Issa). Damien, whose cop father was killed by Tremaine in the slum. She is forced to team with a fearless Gallic cop killer, the shirtless ex-con (Lino Dupree), who is a lone crusader going after the drug lords. When Lino thwarts a large drug deal of Tremaine’s, in revenge the ruthless drug kingpin kidnaps his girlfriend Lola (Catalina Denis). Tremaine has also stolen a neutron bomb from a military delivery and plans to blow up Detroit if $30 million is not put into his off-shore bank accounts by the city. The film’s funniest line, unintentional, has the mayor whisper to an adviser that they can’t deliver the blackmail money because the city is broke and everyone in the room looks surprised.

The cartoonish stylized action scenes recycles the all too familiar generic plots of this genre and leaves us with an empty dystopian film, that even if one suspends belief it still can’t be viewed as anything but absurd. It’s the kind of film where the stuntmen really earn their pay and the viewer gets taken to the cleaners with such dirt. The acting ranges from dreadful to mediocre.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”