Brick Mansions Review
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Last Thanksgiving, Hollywood lost a lovable action star in Paul Walker, whose Fast and Furious franchise was left struggling to find a way to move on without him. In the meantime, the late actor returns to theaters in Brick Mansions, a clichéd crime thriller that makes his untimely passing seem all the more tragic.

In this ridiculous cops-and-dealers adventure, Walker stars as Damien Collier, a determined young cop who’s bent on avenging his father, who was killed by Detroit drug lord Tremaine Alexander (RZA). The problem is that Tremaine lives inside the walled projects of Detroit, known as Brick Mansions—a place where no cop would dare show his face.

After Damien takes down one of Tremaine’s associates on the outside, however, he’s finally given his chance for revenge. Tremaine and his men have stolen a bomb and inadvertently activated it, so the mayor sends Damien inside Brick Mansions to track down Tremaine, find the bomb, and disarm it before it’s too late.

Somewhere in here, there’s the slightest glimmer of a thoughtful story, with messages about corruption and social consciousness. But it gets lost in blatant stereotypes, unexceptional action sequences, and acting that’s almost as awkward as the dialogue. The script is full of lazy one-liners that would have been bad enough in the hands of more talented actors—but they fall painfully flat when delivered by the film’s mediocre cast.

As Lino, the ex-con who acts as Damien’s guide inside the wall, French actor and stuntman David Belle gives the fight scenes some flair with his stunning Parkour moves. Without him, the action would be little better than boilerplate. But, when it’s time for him to stop running, jumping, and bouncing off walls and start talking, he struggles to spit out his lines in English. And rapper RZA seems to transform from a slick but ruthless drug lord into a vaguely-Jamaican freedom fighter as he starts spouting Bob Marley lyrics toward the end of the film.

Sadly, Walker is about the only credible thing about this movie. The late star is as charming and down-to-earth as ever, clearly enjoying every minute of the film’s sheer madness—from his laughable lines to his over-the-top fights. He even gets behind the wheel of a fast-moving vehicle or two, so he seems right at home. I’d like to think that he was in on the joke—that he knew just how bad the movie was, and he was simply reveling in the silliness of it all. But as likable as he may be, even Walker can’t make this crime thriller worthy of much more than brainless late-night TV viewing.

It may be a no-brainer for Walker’s fans, but Brick Mansions is a half-hearted compilation of crime thriller clichés. So unless you’re seeing it as a way of paying your respects to the late star, don’t bother.

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