Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Movie Review: “Brick Mansions”

   I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast

   Paul Walker is a talent that will be missed. Unfortunately, this film will not be remembered as one of his better roles, but in fairness to him, the script didn’t give him much to work with…at all. Playing a detective out for revenge for the death of his father, by taking down the city’s most dangerous criminals was a good start, and Walker sold it as much as the script allowed. However, without any real depth written for the character, there was only so much he could do.

   David Belle was actually a surprise here. As one of the founders of Parkour, his stunts were absolutely amazing and had me hooked at the beginning of the film. Again, with a sparsely written script, there wasn’t much for him to delve into so I guess I was just mostly impressed that he didn’t completely stink. Playing an ex-con trying to do right by the neighborhood, Belle isn’t going to win any awards for this one.

   RZA plays the bad guy Tremaine. Perhaps he was trying to go for “over-the-top” villain, perhaps not. It doesn’t really matter as his delivery was less than substantive, which says a lot considering he was probably the only person who’s character had enough leeway written into the script to do anything with. Honestly, the director should have said “cut” a few more times until he got it right.

The Plot: 
   In the near future Detroit is besieged with uncontrollable crime (wait, did I say the future?) and a section of it is so bad that it is walled off from the rest of the city with the people therein left to their own devices. The area hereafter referred to as Brick Mansions.

   The Mayor has decided that his nefarious plot for untold wealth rests in building up the area designated as Brick Mansions…after the buildings and people there are wiped out. Enter Damien (Walker) a detective with a score to settle, the perfect unwitting tool for the Mayor. Given a mission to “save” the area, he embarks on a journey of unpleasant revelations and realizations.

   Meanwhile Lino (Belle) is battling Tremaine (RZA) over the drug industry Tremain is running in Brick Mansions. Both become caught up in the intricacies of the Mayor’s plot as they cross paths with Damien and discover the truth. What follows is action without plot, and acting without substance.  

The Verdict: 
  It’s very rare I see a film this bad and I can honestly say that I was glad I didn’t have to pay for it (although now that I think about it, it was a complete waste of my Starpass rewards points). 

     The film begins to fail with the script and continues to fall apart with the lack of detail or attention paid to what is supposed to be going on. There are very few films that have this many holes in it, that I was audibly groaning in the theater and no matter how much they used slow motion (every other frame), it just didn’t help.

   Here are a few examples…
   After months of undercover work by Damien, on the night the police decide to bust the bad guy, they don’t have a single cop cover the back of the building? The bad guy conveniently escapes…into the ridiculous sequence of Damien holding onto the spoiler of a speeding car, while being shot at. It’s bad enough he picks the trunk lock during all this, but once inside the car (through the trunk), nobody thinks to STOP THE CAR to deal with him? I’m sorry, but for me, it’a a clear sign of a bad film when the driver doesn’t have enough common sense to realize he can’t fight or take continued shots to the face…and still maintain control of a vehicle going at ridiculous speeds. Stop the car.

   Later there is a chase as Lino and his girlfriend take Tremaine hostage and try to make a getaway in Tremaine’s car…a Mustang GT. Call me dumb, but if you really want to see a chase scene like this, you can’t have a 1980’s lemon, struggling to even maintain any motion, keep up with a Mustang. It just doesn’t sell in either the comparison of the cars, to the reason why Tremaine was so enamored by the car, when it’s revealed later he had access to some serious German engineering.

   Trust me when I say this doesn’t even begin to address all the stuff that was wrong with this film. I get that the Mayor was really the bad guy, and there was a message in the film trying to address the plight of the 99% against the 1%, but when the ex-soldier turned drug dealer in control of Brick Mansions runs for Mayor at the end…and they say he has a shot at success, it just goes way overboard for me.

   “Dumb” is the only way to describe this film as it was only able to flavor my tea with just one cinnamon stick, out of five, somehow snuck in when I wasn’t looking.

1/ 5

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