This is a must-see and one of the best documentaries - and films - of this year.
It's a movie as timely as it is provocative and amazingly, for much of its running time, it is weirdly funny.
Through painfully honest and emotional moments, the movie becomes irresistibly relatable
This English-language remake of the excellent DISTRICT 13 was once again made by the French, albeit shot in Canada this time around. It's pretty much a scene-for-scene remake of the original, although inevitably not as good for reasons which we shall come to. It's only as the running time goes on that crucial differences to the original come to light and unfortunately they're not improvements.First, let's get the good stuff listed. This is a short, snappy, action thriller, with plenty of shoot-outs and fight scenes to recommend it. The framing is often good and there's a fine sense of setting in the grubby, run-down locations. One of the highlights is the return of David Belle, playing the same character as he did in the original; it's just an annoyance that they decided to dub him rather than have him use his French accented English.Paul Walker is an odd but obvious choice for Cyril Raffaelli's character in the original, but he's no martial artist so the martial arts fights have been replaced by fist fights and a greater emphasis on car chases. Catalina Denis and Ayisha Issa are the requisite scantily-clad women who hang around to show off their bodies and little more is required of them than that.The problems are slight at first but begin to mount up as the narrative progresses. First off, the editing is horrendous. The early Parkour scenes are ruined by the refusal to shoot the stunts in single, fluid takes; there's always a dodgy edit halfway through, cutting to a different angle and lessening the impact. Sometimes one of Belle's jumps has three or four edits in it which ruins the whole flow of the thing. BRICK MANSIONS does a lot right, but it gets this crucial editing oh so wrong. I remember in the old days of Jackie Chan's 1980s movies that they sometimes wanted to capture a stunt from different angles, so they would just replay it, which was a much better way of doing it.The second problem is RZA, playing the drug dealer villain of the piece. RZA is one of those guys who really loves himself and the film-makers seem to love him too, so there's an unbelievable twist at the end which has to be seen to be believed. The ending is frankly laughable in this respect, and a far cry from the power of the original movie. It's the epitome of sanitised, PG-13 entertainment, and I could cry. At least the rest of the film is in the right spirit, so it's only the ending where it falls apart.
OK... Some movies are believable, some movies are hard to believe but possible.... This movie didn't make an attempt to be be either. The acting was so so and all the gymnastics made the movie unbearable; the first fight scene set the tone for the movie. The first 15 minutes felt like an hour and you know you're watching a failed movie when it tries to impress you with unrealistic fight sequences. But to top it all off.... You have a sociopathic, murderous drug dealer who has a change of life at the very end..... OMG.Do not waste your time unless you're watching it for free.....and then try to stomach it.
Detroit detective Damien Collier (Paul Walker) is sent in to infiltrate a notorious gang led by Tremaine Alexander (RZA). Alexander's gang have stolen a nuclear warhead and intend to use it against those that are living 'outside' of Brick Mansions. Collier is assisted in this mission by ex-convict Lino (David Belle). However, their mission becomes more difficult when Lino's ex-girlfriend Lola (Catalina Denis) ends up being kidnapped by the gang. The two men (who initially don't get along) find that they have to work together to not only rescue Lola, but also to rescue an entire city as well.The problems begin with this film pretty much from the start and the first issue is unoriginality; the start of the film felt like a rip-off of Robocop - the fact that the setting of this film is Detroit (the same setting as Robocop) makes matters worse - it's one thing stealing an idea, but then to have the audacity to use the same city as the setting??. Hmmmm..... very dodgy. It then has a 'haves' vs 'have nots' theme between those in Brick Mansions and those that are 'outside' Brick Mansions. Suffice it to say that this one sentence sums up this concept as it is given no real focus or development. It perhaps would have been slightly better if this aspect had been developed more and probably would have made the film slightly more interesting and much less derivative.The laziness in the storytelling continues as we see Collier saddled with an ex-con as a partner whom he doesn't get along with which is something that we saw 30 years ago in 48 Hours. The scene where Collier fights a load of heavies whilst he's got a steering wheel handcuffed to his hand is something that was done by Jackie Chan in one of the Rush Hour films (I think it was the first one). Now I'll be honest I don't mind unoriginality per se, but if your material is unoriginal then at least try to make sure that your characters have some chemistry, make the action sequences either exciting or tongue in cheek. All these things are lacking here and what you get here for the most part are one-dimensional characters and a dull and lifeless script. This could have worked as a very basic 'buddy-buddy' film, but as mentioned the chemistry is so weak between Belle and Walker that even this basic need isn't fulfilled. The story is also weak, clichéd and not particularly interesting and the lame twist at the end is unlikely to fool anyone. This is a shame because storytelling used to be one of Besson's strengths so I'm at a loss as to what has gone wrong here.The closing credits inform us that this is a French-Canadian production and it's easy to see France's input in this film; parkour (which is a French invention) seems to be promoted heavily in this film, but then again I believe the original version of this film was set in France so perhaps the French are just trying to promote parkour more in the US. Even the action sequences (which could have been the film's strength) fail to excite or do anything we haven't seen before. This film is directed by Camille Delamarre, but he offers the same frantic directional style coupled with slow-motion framing styles that we've seen from Besson in some of his previous directional efforts. It made me wonder if Delamarre had taken some advice from Besson on how to frame the shots. The direction here isn't horrendous, but it's a little too familiar and is starting to look a bit old hat now. Luc Besson has been responsible for many films that I have enjoyed (he wrote the screenplay for Leon and Taken which are two of my favourite films), but he seems to have lost his way lately by churning out this derivative fluff and recently he also released a film called Lucy which was another rather mediocre offering. Even action fans looking for the most basic requirements in a film are going to be disappointed by this rather weak offering from Besson.
Fast Paced Parkour and a Sleek Style are the Attraction in this Remake with Luc Besson's Team of Entertaining Filmmakers. Paul Walker's Last Film is a Fun Romp Full of Fantastic Acrobatics and a Neat Production Design.The Overall Enjoyment of this No-Brainer is Almost Ruined by RZA. He Cannot Enunciate and it is Truly Painful to Listen to Him Speak His Lines. It is Embarrassing and Along with His Non-Acting Presence it is a Modern Miracle that He Still Gets Roles Despite His Irritating Speaking Voice that has the Unpleasant Result in Making the Ears Bleed and the Mind Numb.But there is So Much to Enjoy, Including the Amazing David Belle, in this Non-Stop Chase it Can be Forgiven it's Completely Silly Ending and its PG-13 Rating. It is a Treat to Watch Despite RZA and the Final Scenes.