Action promised and provided :: This movie had given me the feeling that it is the last time I should be seeing Paul Walker on the big screen (pending what is to come in Fast & Furious 7, of course). Here, what seems to be a higher rating for some of those who have watched this movie is more of the result of my personal admiration for the actor and of course considering the fact that how well the movie has delivered what it had promised. This is the English remake of one of the most admired action movies of the 2000s, the French flick, District 13 – released in 2004 and not many moments without me hearing something about it whenever action movies were mentioned. There was absolutely no doubt about which movie I was to watch this weekend, thanks to Brick Mansions. I haven’t watched the original yet, and I guess that helps to like this movie much better. To add to it, Brick Mansions is a movie completely set in the future, and a situation which a dystopia. Thus, even though not focused, I would say that it not short of its themes. But, as there is no real surprise, the movie depends a lot on its action sequences and breath-taking stunts, something which hasn’t been this efficiently used for quite a long time. So here is the much awaited movie for the fans of the genre.
What is it about? :: The setting is the dystopian Detroit, in the distant future, when the brick mansions of the city become home to the city’s biggest criminals. In a complete absence of law and order and the ever increasing power of the criminal gangs, the police is forced to construct a containment wall outside the area so that nobody comes in or goes out unnoticed. The people inside the containment are separated from the rest, and this is hailed as an innovative and effective step to prevent the normal citizens of the city who live outside the Brick Mansions. To that situation comes Damien Collier (Paul Walker) who is attempting to free the city of crime and corruption, and also have revenge on the man who killed his father, as he remains an undercover cop. Meanwhile, Lino Dupree (David Belle) is a man different from the others in Brick Mansions, attempting to live a good life and hoping to prevent the community from degrading further into chaos. As his girlfriend Lola (Catalina Denis), working as a waiter in a restaurant is kidnapped by the drug lord to get even with him who causes troubles for their illegal business, he combines forces with Damien who is looking forward to settle scores with the same man – Tremaine Alexander (RZA).
The defence of Brick Mansions :: The movie has Paul Walker in his last movie doing a wonderful job, David Belle with his great acrobatics and the beautiful Catalina Denis getting to take part in some action too. You have to love the aerial shots of the area. Then there are the action sequences which are lead by David Belle, master of the art of parkour. We get into the action right in the beginning itself as he runs, climbs, rolls, swings and jumps to avoid the guys chasing him, and at the same time, beating up anyone who comes in direct contact with him. He is easily identified as the one to look out for. There is the need not to drag, and having the action sequences at most priority as far as movies like this are concerned, because that is what the viewers expect and that is what the movie delivers. There is no dull moment in this movie, and there are a few lighter scenes too despite the total nature of the movie. But at the same time, the theme of dystopia is not abandoned, and it exists with the car chases, shooting and melee combat scenes. The setting of the movie plays a big part in defining the progress. Brick Mansions is a great way to remember Paul Walker, even as it won’t create any magic like the Fast and Furious franchise did.
Claws of flaw :: Finding fault with this movie might be rather too easy, and it is evident from a good number of negative reviews. There haven’t been many action movies which got the critical appreciation that they deserved. The first major assault on this movie might be about it being a little too unrealistic and not trying to be smart enough. Yes, Brick Mansions might not be smart and surely not original considering that it is a remake, and unrealistic as a whole. But unlike some of the other movies, for example, Transcendence, this movie doesn’t try to make the claim or does it try to look realistic when it is not really that. I would have liked to have a better twist added to the movie’s ending, not as part of finding fault, but making it better. Then you are welcome to feel that the plot is a little predictable, but that should happen because this is the remake of that older movie. It could have been a better allegory given its setting. Something to ponder over in the middle of those action sequences wouldn’t have hurt much, after all the action sequences seems to have come naturally to all the actors and actresses involved with the scenes. The movie might feel a little bit like a video game for a few, with so much of non-stop action involved, but this is not made for such people.
Performers of the Soul :: Paul Walker remains charming and the more silent assassin in this movie, as he is wonderful in this performance too. He is like a more human version of Judge Dredd with all the simplicity. He has less action sequences to perform than David Belle who starts with the action sequences right from the beginning, being the more aggressive and a lot more acrobatic of the two. He played the same character in the original, and has come up with a breath-taking performance in this one, as far as action sequences are concerned. Meanwhile, RZA make a fine dystopian villain, even as the element of evil is rather weak except for shooting his own people and threatening to launch a rocket towards the city. In being evil, Ayisha Issa plays his sidekick and overtakes him in being bad, whether in her sadness in not getting to kill Lino or to murder millions by destroying the city or whether it is in tormenting the kidnapped Lola, her character becomes the bigger villain. Catalina Denis is gorgeous as Lola and the best thing about her is that she comes up with some sylish action sequences of her own, when not being beaten up by the lady villain. I hope we see a lot more from the beautiful and talented Colombian actress in future.
Soul exploration :: Brick Mansions might seem to give nothing to think about, for most of its viewers, but the movie has its own versions of the abuse of power which the men with power exert on the marginalized, and also that division of people which has made the situation more suitable for a dystopian government. There is too much inequality, and Lino’s attempt to become a better man in a society of crime which is rather helped by the containment walls would rather land him in prison and his girlfriend in the captivity of his enemies. There will always be more than one kind of people in all sides, both good and evil, and also grey. There will always be angels, fallen angels and the demons, and it is an inescapable fact of life. Containment walls were never supposed to be a solution. If people can’t change, there is no point in exile, and the government’s choice of dividing its own people instead of attempting fight crime in an efficient manner will finally go against itself, as depicted against the movie. There will sometimes be heroes who help the process, and otherwise it is just pain luck that goes against the oppression. The movie’s heroes have their own beliefs only to be tricked by the dystopian environment that is around them.
How it finishes :: Here is what might be your last chance to see Paul Walker on the big screen, and you won’t wish to miss it. But it does deserve to be seen for its action sequences too, as far as you can enjoy them without thinking about how something was possible and what is the logic behind the same. After that scene in which David Belle is running away in the beginning, a few other interesting sequences include Paul Walker teaming up with him to beat up a much stronger man, the two car chasing scenes, Catalina Denis’ fight with Ayisha Issa and the final dealing of her lady foe problem and Paul’s early drug bust (that shouldn’t lead to the underestimation of the other fight scenes though). This should be the week of Brick Mansions, thanks to Transcendence being bad and no big Hollywood release here this weekend. Even the regional movie releases haven’t worked that well. Most of you do need to watch Brick Mansions for those reasons, and I have a feeling that even those who don’t want might just end up watching it. If this can’t convince you, there is still the original District 13 with the subtitles to be watched, and I hope that you get the taste of it in one way or the other.
Release date: 25th April 2014
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Camille Delamarre
Starring: Paul Walker, David Belle, Catalina Denis, RZA, Ayisha Issa, Robert Maillet, Carlo Rota, Kwasi Songui
@ Cemetery Watch
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