As Paul Walker's final finished film before his untimely death last year in a car crash, it would be nice to say that Brick Mansions is a fitting epitaph to his film career. It would be nice, but it wouldn't be true.

As a remake of the Luc Besson-written and -produced 2004 action flick District B13 — which introduced the world to the astoundingly agile parkour founder David Belle — Brick Mansions is as ploddingly clumsy as basically every other human seems when compared to Belle.


The problem is not that the movie's plot makes no sense, because it copies the original movie's ridiculous story pretty much verbatim, with Paul Walker standing as for the undercover cop, Wu-Tang Clan's RZA as the drug-dealing kingpin, Detroit as Paris, and Belle as essentially the same drug-destroying slum vigilante he played originally. The problem is that Brick Mansions inexplicably slows down to focus on that story instead of filling the screen with relentless action and Belle's superhuman stunts.

The plot is absurd, even for the Escape from New York let's-wall-off-the-slums genre, as Walker is sent into the "Brick Mansions" ghetto with Belle's drug-destroying vigilante to defuse an experimental neutron bomb which was "lost" in a scheme so convolutedly stupid that it boggles the mind. Additionally, Raekwon's gangster killed Paul Walker's cop dad and stole Belle's ex-girlfriend in retaliation for Belle destroying 20 kilos of his heroin, so they have that to deal with, too.

Again, that's more or less the same story of the original movie, but where the original movie let Belle literally run wild, distracting everyone from the silliness of the plot, Brick Mansions instead brings the story to the forefront, or focuses on the characters, who it turns out are not that compelling when they're not leaping off rooftops or beating the hell out of each other. In fact, other than an excellent opening sequence where Belle gets to show off his immense skills as he runs from Raekwon's goons, the rest of Brick Mansions' action sequences are depressingly mundane.


To be fair, Walker, while in excellent shape, doesn't come close to the athleticism of his co-star, so other than a few select stunts, Walker's action scenes are mostly limited to punching, shooting, and, most unfortunately, a few crash-filled car chases. But Belle made District B13 a cult action-hit, and he's the reason why the movie was successful enough to warrant this American remake. It's also why he's playing the same role. Paul Walker is obviously the star here, but metaphorically hamstringing Belle isn't doing anyone any favors, particularly the audience.

And thus Brick Mansions ends up being an inferior remake of a really great action film. My advice: Go watch District B13, and hope Fast and the Furious 7 gives Paul Walker a better epitaph.