Thursday, 19 June 2014

Brick Mansions

Brick Mansions stars Paul Walker and David Belle and is a remake of the french film Banlieu 13. It sees Walkers undercover cop and Belles Robin-Hood-esque hoodlum unite against The RZAs gangster boss who threatens to shoot a missile at the finer part of town. The action is set in Brick Mansions, a neighborhood that has been walled off and abandoned by the rest of the city after crime has hit an all-time high.

It should not matter that this is one of Paul Walkers last films, the last one that he completed before his tragic death. However I feel that this is obviously part of any conversation about the movie, so here's a quick disclaimer. I have tremendous respect for the man and from all I know he was an exceptional human being. His legacy lives on in his charity and the memory of his family.

This movie however, will not be part of anyones legacy. This is the kind of movie that I would like to really trash right now, but I can't really enjoy that given the circumstances, so I'll be brief.

The story is completely ridiculous, and not in a good way. The central conflict is that RZAs gangsterboss points a rocket with a nuclear payload at the rich part of the city... the same city he lives in. Our protagonists seek to stop him by using their extensive knowledge of Parkour and the magical ability of being impervious to bullet fire. It's exactly as bad as I make it sound.

The only part that I want to elaborate on, because I think that it's symptomatic of a recent trend in Hollywood, is David Belles stuntwork. This could have been the great strength of this movie. But Director Camille Delamarre, whose work includes being an Editor for movies like Taken 2 and Transporter 3, has no idea how to shoot him. He uses the kind of quick cuts that have spread through Hollywood since the success of the Bourne trilogy. Today, they are often used to mask poor stuntwork, see Alex Cross if you want to know what I mean... on the other hand, don't see it, it's terrible. The paradox here is that David Belle can do everything that is asked here. I've seen his Parkour videos on Youtube, long before he became an actor. His stunt-scenes could have been done in long takes, in one shot even. People would have been amazed by his commitment and proficiency. But it isn't shot that way. It's shot the way an action scene is shot the way it is when you need to hide a switch to a stuntman. A better director would have known that, and someone whose background is in editing should have known that as well.

The way this movie plays, it's terrible, don't see it. If you are a fan of Paul Walker, wait for Fast Seven, of which I am sure it will be great.

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