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Movie review: Brick Mansions

With a complex plot and a bad screenplay, this action flick is a dud

April 26, 2014 | 11:05 a.m. CST

As bad as Detroit might be today, it couldn’t be any worse than the set of Brick Mansions. It’s 2018 and a portion of the city, known as brick mansions, has devolved into crime-ridden and rat-infested squalor. Ringleader Tremaine (RZA) makes his fortune in drug trafficking and illegal weapon sales; conversely, vigilante Lino (David Belle) is on a crusade to clean up his neighborhood.

When the mayor calls undercover detective Damien Collier (Paul Walker) to defuse an active bomb within brick mansions’ walls, Collier finds himself paired up with Lino. Ulterior motives run rampant throughout the film leaving the audience to question: who are the true heroes and villains?

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The plot is as confusing as the cinematography. Most action films have high-intensity scenes with quick movement, but the camera rarely seems to find a resting vantage point during the film. It can be unsettling, and after 90 minutes, expect your eyes to be tired.

Many of the fight scenes were unbelievable. For most of the film, Damien and Lino are without weapons and use parkour (a discipline founded by Belle) to best large groups of Tremaine’s thugs, who are equipped with machine guns and other heavy artillery. The moves are physically demanding and add flair but would be no match in a real gunfight. They quickly become ostentatious.

However, the weakest link by far was the screenplay written by Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri, who also co-wrote District B13 (2004), which Brick Mansions is based on. At one point, Tremaine quotes a Wu-Tang Clan song (maybe this was an ad-lib from RZA, the group’s chief producer). Overall the lack of explanatory or even meaningful dialogue contributed to the confusion about the plot. Hopefully Paul Walker’s last appearance on the silver screen in next spring’s Fast and Furious 7 will be a better way to remember the late actor.

Vox Rating: V

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