'Brick Mansions' review: The final film starring Paul Walker has lots of stuntwork, little logic

RZA, left, and Paul Walker in "Brick Mansions." RZA, left, and Paul Walker in "Brick Mansions." Photo Credit: AP / Philippe Bosse

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REVIEW

PLOT: In a walled-off section of dystopian Detroit, an undercover cop hunts a drug dealer. (Rated PG-13)

BOTTOM LINE: Thoroughly dopey, but eye-popping parkour stuntwork and a charismatic RZA make it fairly enjoyable. The late Walker turns in one of his final performances.

CAST: Paul Walker, RZA, David Belle

LENGTH: 1:29

High on stuntwork and low on logic, "Brick Mansions" is the kind of mindless action flick that works well enough on its own dopey terms. Its star is nominally Paul Walker, the "Fast and Furious" actor who died in a car crash in November, but its real selling point is a form of urban gymnastics known as parkour. You've seen it briefly in movies like "The Bourne Ultimatum" and "Casino Royale," but "Brick Mansions" is the first major-studio project built entirely around this eye-catching, gravity-defying style of movement.

That means plot and character are secondary, if that. Based on Luc Besson's "District 13" films and directed by Camille Delamarre, the movie is named after a walled-off Detroit ghetto where undercover cop Damien Collier (Walker) is searching for drug kingpin Tremaine Alexander (RZA). Collier's reluctant partner is ex-con Lino (David Belle). A woman is involved (Catalina Denis plays Lino's ex-girlfriend), but there are bigger problems: Tremaine possesses a neutron bomb.

Since parkour is to "Brick Mansions" what break-dancing was to "Breakin'," much credit must go to Belle, a French stuntman who helped create the activity. As an actor, he's passable, but as a physical artist he's special. Belle walks on ceilings, bounces off walls and seems to climb into empty space.At his best, he moves like a combination of Jackie Chan and Shaun White.

The movie's other show-stealer, though in a different way, is RZA, who delivers several thug-life monologues with fiery charisma. Whenever "Brick Mansions" adopts the outraged stance of the 99 percent -- the downtrodden versus the power elite -- it falls to RZA's Tremaine to make it work, and he does. The actor-rapper's hip-hop bona fides help turn even marginal lines ("Where I come from, cash rule everything around me") into manifestoes.

As for Walker, he gets to do some mano-a-mano along with a little pedal-to-the-metal in a stolen Mustang. He's one of several modest pleasures in "Brick Mansions."

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PLOT In a walled-off section of dystopian Detroit, an undercover cop hunts a drug dealer.

RATING PG-13
 
CAST Paul Walker, RZA, David Belle

 

@Newsday

LENGTH 1:29
 
BOTTOM LINE Thoroughly dopey, but eye-popping parkour stuntwork and a charismatic RZA make it fairly enjoyable. The late Walker turns in one of his final performances.

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