Film addicts, it’s important to walk into Brick Mansions with the right mindset. It can’t be stressed enough that this movie is a glorified version of cinematic frozen pizza. As a critic, my job was to also separate the film from the bittersweet paradox that came with the tag of Paul Walker’s last completed film. The minute I saw the twinkle in Walker’s blue eyes and the youthful vulnerability in his performance in this brainless action exercise, there was a small moment of nostalgia.
Seeing him drive a sports car furiously around a parking lot was plain eerie. The action star died tragically in a car accident in November and seeing his confident energy on screen kicking, punching and sprinting for justice, it’s rather difficult at first to separate real life and cinema. With his death coming 2 fast 2 furious only months ago, the effort was on to properly critique his last film.
The movie starts, and David Belle starts jumping through windows and off buildings, and right away the IQ level of Brick Mansions is revealed. 1980’s throwaway action candy. Take it for what it is, and the film can be enjoyed at a modest level. Take it for anything more, and disappointment will settle in.
Walker and Belle are the avenging cop and criminal with a heart of gold tandem, and they share good chemistry. RZA steals the film with his hilarious one liners and seems to be having the most fun. He gives nods to the Wu Tang Gang and makes jokes about rockets and science and is clearly winking at the audience. In other words, he is in on the joke.
Belle introduces parkour to the movie crowd, a style of running/jumping/flipping where an individual uses the surroundings given to them in order to scale walls and fit through the tightest of spaces with bad guys chasing you. Belle’s athleticism is impressive and the action scenes are well done. Lots of slow motion but also lots of old fashioned fight scene choreography.
The film does shine most when Walker is holding his own along side Belle(a part time stuntman) as they invent new outrageous ways to escape bad guys and save the day. Walker has a mix of energy and vulnerability that makes you wonder how far his career could have gone. He can handle himself well in this genre because he isn’t overly muscled and looks the part of a heroic cop trying to survive among deadly criminals and corrupt politicians. Belle’s voice seems to be dubbed over a bit much, but that fits in with this type of film. Most of the other actors have minimal dialogue and stretch the definition of the idea of role playing. Please don’t come here looking for a fine ensemble of quality performances. The set may as well of been a beach.
The film is 89 minutes long and flies by and doesn’t have a nickel inside its brain or an ambition to represent anything special. Screenwriter Luc Besson can write this style of action film in his sleep and doesn’t bore the crowd here. The ending is overly satisfying and is tied with four ribbons. Action packed all the time and very funny in moments, Brick Mansions is the midnight movie you watch at home. It isn’t worth 10 dollars at the theaters but when it arrives on Redbox , it will go down smooth with a group of friends and plenty of red bull.
Why do I compare it to frozen pizza? If you order pizza at a movie theater and get frozen pizza variety, it’s disappointing. If you get it at home, it’s expected and tolerable. That is the best way to describe this film. Wait for it on DVD and honor Walker’s legacy with a salute of a Pepsi can and slice of DiGornos.