"Brick Mansions" Review: Craig's first take

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An undercover cop tries to take down a ruthless crime lord with access to a neutron bomb by infiltrating his gang.
2.5

We’ll know Paul Walker’s swan song when we see it, by which I mean that swan will probably come in the form of a nitro-powered roadster that the actor rides off in a blaze of glory in the next “Fast and Furious.” But “Brick Mansions”, another generic, cliché-riddled action movie from…I don’t even know what we’re calling him now (former excellent filmmaker (“Leon”, “The Fifth Element”) turned regurgitator?) Luc Besson. It’s sort of based on his “District 13’ French action film, although I hear that’s actually good.

Walker plays Damien, an undercover Detroit cop. This is Detroit 2018, and the film follows in the footsteps of other Detroit-set films in predicting the city can only get worse. So bad is it here that one section, Brick Mansions housing project, must be quarantined. But Damien is after Tremaine (RZA, Wu-Tang!), a ruthless drug lord in BM who killed his father and, ohhh, also somehow managed to steal a nuke and aim it right at the better part of Detroit. Damien will need help navigating though, which teams him up with resident and parkour specialist Lino (David Belle).

So let’s see, we have the dead father needing to be avenged, a nuke with a ticking countdown to annihilation, Lino having to save his girlfriend (Catalina Denis) in distress, two guys who are polar opposites learning to fight as one, the rich part of town looking to hold down the poor part of town, and enough repetitive car chases, fist fights, shoot-outs, explosions, etc. to make any plot point seem totally irrelevant. Directed by first timer Camille Delamare, another from Besson’s stable of editors/cinematographers given a shot at directing, there’s never any doubt about any of this, even the inevitable fight the two heroes have with a huge but slow henchman contains no suspense.

If you do check this out though, go for David Belle. The parkour fighting style of flips, jumps, and flying is like watching cirque du soleil perform in a housing project. Walker’s charm is that he was never much of an actor, but always a committed action hero. The rest of the cast is pretty weak, although Besson does remember to include two actresses and gets the most out of them for the material, i.e one wears dominatrix duds, the other sexy school girl outfit. “Brick Mansions” might work fine for some late-night-on-cable eye candy but it’s not worth going out to see it.