Dave's Rating:


Au revoir, cerveau.

It's bad manners to trash the final completed film of a dead person, even if it's not a very good film. And Brick Mansions is not a very good film. But even if that tragic car accident had never taken place and Walker were still with us, Mansions' goodness or badness would still be kind of beside the point. Walker's the upright undercover cop on a mission to rid future-Detroit of its scumbags and he's the least idiosyncratic element in its trashy mix. It has the English language acting talent of some people for whom English is not a primary language; it has the English language acting talent of RZA, who is a very accomplished musician; it has the hot-in-2004 Extreme Jumping phenomenon known as parkour, included here because the whole thing is a remake of the Luc Besson-produced, 2004 action-thriller District 13; it has an exploitation film's worth of bad guys, including one human giant and a ferocious woman clad in dominatrix gear whose sexual orientation could most likely be classified as Thunderdome; it has a shark tank; it has a neutron bomb.

RZA is the druglord "mayor" of the walled-off housing project known as Brick Mansions. He rules a crime-kingdom where anything goes and little old ladies keep tasers by their beds in case wildly parkouring miscreants crash through their windows. The bosses of The Rest of Detroit decide to blow it all up with that neutron bomb so that they can build luxury condos and high-end shopping. They set up Walker to go in, hunt down RZA and "fix" the bomb. Then a variety of fights take place.

But in a film like this, where those fight scenes are frenzy-edited well past the point of allowing the viewer to trust in the physical abilities of the performers, where guns are easily knocked out of the wrong hands when it's convenient for the plot and not easily knocked out when it's time to put the heroes in harm's way, when the celebrated acrobatic ability of parkour co-inventor David Belle is so slo-mo stylized and visually chopped up that it's impossible to know if he's actually good at anything besides growing a cool mustache, it's understandable if you start to side with the idea of a palate cleansing neutron bomb yourself. But you'd still be asking for the wrong thing. This is Luc Besson's hyper-child that's why your silly stadium-seat logic fails you.

Here, middlebrow ideas about filmmaking (first time director = Transporter 3 editor Camille Delamarre, the movie's least relevant credit) and quality and acting and editing can more easily be discussed in terms of their Luc Besson-ness. And Mansions is very Luc Besson-y. Whether he's producing, writing or directing, his favorite audience is Luc Besson. He pleases himself above all others and he's very good at it. His spiritual home is a discount drive-in triple feature in 1979, one where evildoers on screen meet their end when the hero decaptitates them with the force of his own kneecap (kneecapitation - now it's a thing). He's sort of like the Tyler Perry of French action films where people are chasing one another by running sideways across walls that are on fire. Do you like how he does that? Yes? No? Too bad, it was a trick question anyway. He's just going to keep doing it. Watch or don't watch.


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