Dir: Camille Delamarre
Cast: Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA, Gouchy Boy, Catalina Denis, Ayisha Issa, Robert Maillet and Carlo Rota
Synopsis: An undercover Detroit cop navigates a dangerous neighborhood that’s surrounded by a containment wall with the help of an ex-con in order to bring down a crime lord and his plot to devastate the entire city.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
Mega producer and action director Luc Besson brings one of his popular French movies and of course “Americanize” it. Based on the 2004 French movie Banlieue 13 aka District B13, Besson brings back original star David Belle to play essentially the same character. Instead of a French ghetto, the movie is set in 2018 in Detroit. Brick Mansions is a section of the city where the lower class of people live and is run by drug kingpin Tremaine (RZA). When he gets hold of a bomb, the Mayor of Detroit sends in one of his best undercover cops, Damien (Walker) and teams him up with a Brick Mansions native, Lino (Belle). Once inside, Damien and Lino have their own intention of getting Tremaine.
Damien wants revenge for his dead father and Lino wants Tremaine gone from his neighborhood and to save his ex-girlfriend (as opposed to his sister in the original) Lola (Denis). Along with that, they have to avoid getting killed by Tremaine’s gang and his main henchmen K2 (Gouchy Boy) and Rayzah (Issa).
Luc Besson, who produced and wrote the first one, comes back and does the same thing here. But it’s director Camille Delamarre (who is a Besson protégé) who adds his own flare to the movie. Unfortunately, Delamarre’s decisions are wonky. There are random moments of slow motion for really no reason and random moments of special effects that almost tarnish the originality and low-level of special effects in the original. I’m not saying Banlieue 13 was a perfect movie and I hate comparing remakes to the originals in reviews, but I feel like it has to be mentioned here because there are things –like the CGI– that compared to the original, make the remake a little uninspiring.
The cast itself is a mixed bag. Like I mentioned, original star David Belle comes back and shows off his Parkour skills that also made the original stand out. I will admit, it was interesting to hear him pull an American accent. Belle definitely has a presence on screen and teaming up with Walker was cool to see.
Of course, the other leading man is the late Paul Walker (this was his last movie he completed filming before he passed away). Walker’s Damien is fueled only by revenge against Tremaine for killing his father which makes his decision to go into Brick Mansions easier. Walker brings his usual charm to the role, although at times it feels forced and unnatural which is a shame. The team up between Belle and Walker has its strong moments but comes and goes which makes it a bit frustrating.
RZA’s Tremaine isn’t even that interesting of a villain. There are scenes that try to make him menacing but they don’t come off that way and most of the stuff he does has been done before in more effective ways. Gouchy Boy’s K2 comes off more of a goof than menacing like the character was in the original. Ayisha Issa’s Rayzah seems more like the real villain, who has an interesting wardrobe, and spends most the time taunting Lola. Robert Maillet’s Yeti is given more to do than his original character but still goes through the motions of being another bad buy with nothing to do.
All in all, Brick Mansions has its moments and although the team up of Belle and Walker is nice to see, the movie doesn’t live up the original that much. If you want an action movie to fill up some time and can’t watch the original then this could be passable.
3 out of 5