Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

'Brick Mansions' remakes 'District B13'

The late Paul Walker headlines “Brick Mansion,” an action-comedy that Americanizes “District B13.”

"BRICK Mansions" sounds like a documentary about luxury housing for Sixers' perimeter players.

But in fact it's a Hollywood remake of a terrific French action movie called "District B13," relocated in this version to Detroit, the better to Americanize its themes of callous elites lording over a ruined underclass.

The late Paul Walker stars, alongside David Belle, the French "parkour" athlete whose incredible jumping stunts (repeated here) helped give the original its kinetic energy.

Walker plays an undercover cop assigned to infiltrate a walled-off part of the city run by ruthless gangster Tremaine (RZA).

The cop teams with Belle, playing a vigilante whose girlfriend (Catalina Denis) Tremaine has abducted.

Abducted and attached to a nuclear device that's due to explode, unless our heroes can disarm it.

That's the plot, an appropriately flimsy excuse to place Belle in urban spaces wherein he can run along and up walls (he makes Spider-Man look like a 'roid-y poser), and make somersaulting leaps through various apertures, including the windows of moving cars.

Never have I left a movie feeling so desperately out of shape.

Walker has a couple of driving stunts, and this may unnerve fans who can't shake the memories of the actor's grisly death in the passenger seat of a speeding car.

But I mostly was reminded of Walker's astute understanding of his impossibly perfect leading-man looks and the way he learned to both inhabit and send up his blond, blue-eyed iconography.

The best bits here, for instance, feature Walker watching Belle perform an amazing escape, haplessly realizing that his life depends on imitating what he's just seen.

"Brick Mansions" is pitched as more of an action-comedy than "District B13," and is less straight-faced in its presentation of the one-percent/99-percent divide. Also less astute - its work on behalf of society's marginalized does not extend to its LGBT character, treated rather harshly here.

But the movie has its moments of lean, guilty-pleasure fun, and will get you out the door in 90 minutes, in the mood to exercise.