Movie Review: “Brick Mansions” – Tear it Down

Written by Leo Panasyuk May 15, 2014

Paul Walker, Brick Mansions It’s a well-known fact that Hollywood has a penchant for remakes. They churn them out on an annual basis with factory-like efficiency, and most miss the mark. It becomes even more challenging when the film being remade is already well-received in its own right, therefore questioning the necessity of a remake. While “Brick Mansions” somehow touts itself as a standalone remake of “Banlieue 13” it features an enormous amount of similarities to the original, almost to the point of it being a shot-for-shot remake.

“I Handle What Needs Handling”

“Brick Mansions” takes place in a dystopian Detroit in the not-so-distant future, where a large portion of the city has been walled off and separated. Labeled ‘Brick Mansions,’ it is a decrepit and crime-ridden slum where gangs – led by drug lord Tremaine (RZA) – rule the streets. When a missile is stolen by Tremaine’s gang with the intention of using it against the city, undercover cop Damien Collier (Paul Walker) must infiltrate the city with the help of Lino (David Belle), a Brick Mansions expat whose parkour skills are his ultimate weapon. Together, they are in a race against time to stop Tremaine from leveling Detroit.

You'd think you were watching an overly-long and poorly thought-out rap video.

You’d think you were watching an overly-long and poorly thought-out rap video.

This film is ridiculous, and not in a good way. From the implausible plot, two-dimensional characters,and campy dialogue, this film isn’t as solid as its title would suggest. Paul Walker (in his final role before his tragic death earlier this year) and David Belle have passable chemistry between them but it’s not nearly enough to save the film from its other shortcomings. Belle’s native tongue is French, and the film even declares that this is his character’s nationality. So why is it that all of his lines were awfully dubbed by Vin Diesel? Why not just have him speak English in a heavy accent, as would be appropriate to his character? This is just the tip of the iceberg, though.

If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix it

I like RZA as an artist and sometimes as an actor, but here he is simply a caricaturewithout deep or inspired motivations. Why does he want to unleash a missile upon Detroit? For money, of course. “Cash rules everything around me,” a wise man once said. But what makes him even more confusing is the fact that in the film’s final act, he completely turns his character around and becomes a completely new figure, precipitated out of the blue. The supporting cast is flimsier than the Brick Mansions themselves, ranging from corrupt political figures, to wild-and-wacky henchmen and girlfriends-turned-damsels-in-distress. There are only two actually substantial female characters in this film: one is said distressed damsel, and the other is said wild-and-wacky henchman (henchwoman, rather). If you sought deeply-developed female characters, you’re in the wrong neighbourhood.

Get away while you still can, Paul.

Get away while you still can, Paul.

As far as the action in the film goes, it’s choppy and messy, leaving you cross-eyed and confused by the end. There’s an overuse of shaky cam of “Bourne Ultimatum” proportions, poorly edited action/fight sequences, and more cuts than a deli when it comes to its scene structure. It’s a mess, inside and out. The only positive thing I have to say is that some of the parkour sequences (though ripped off of the original film) look rather well-done and stylish. But that’s it, nothing else.


“Brick Mansions” is a poor remake of the original French action film “Banlieue 13.” Though it may be enjoyable for a Friday-night movie night, there’s simply not enough substance within this film to make it memorable, which is quite an awful disservice to its most well-known star, Paul Walker, who, dare I say, deserved a much better final role.

My Rating: 3.5/10

Brick Mansions

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About Leo Panasyuk

A fan of all things film, Leo never really lets himself get tied down to one specific genre. He's always interested in watching new and old films and especially loves the IMAX format. When he's not choosing which movie to watch next, he's studying Film and English at Western University.

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