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Brick Mansions

Year: 2014
Production Co: Relativity Media/Europacorp
Director: Camille Delamarre
Producer: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson/Bibi Naceri
Cast: Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA, Catalina Denis

Ths movie can be summed up perfectly by the following sentence, which kept occurring to me throughout; It's kind of dumb, but Paul Walker!

There's a regular writer at a movie magaine I like and respect who always maintained Walker would have ended up his generation's Marlon Brando, and there was absolutely something in it. Even though he usually appeared in brotastic action adventure films driven by stunts and explosions (at least, they're the ones he was known for), he had an undeniable silver screen quality, an X factor that's impossible to pin down but which in another era would have had some fat, balding, cigar-chomping studio president saying 'kid, you're going to be a star!'

It was something in his slightly cheeky smile, his flashing blue eyes and his crystal clear and confident voice (all similar qualities to those Brandon Lee had back in the day) that had me believing he'd end up one of the greats. And just like Lee, Walker's life was cruelly cut short, this being the other film aside from Furious 7 dedicated to his memory as they were the last projects he worked on.

None of the rest of the movie is quite as likeable or memorable as Walker's presence, but it's distracting enough. He plays Damien, a decorated cop sent into the slums of walled-off Detroit in the near future (the demilitarised ghetto that gives the movie its title). Professional parkour machine David Belle is Lino, a tough guy insdie Brick Mansions' walls who's doing what little he can to stamp out the crime and corruption, stealing and flushing a shipment of heroin as we first meet him.

The heroin belonged to the crime lord who runs Brick Mansions, Tremaine (RZA), who kidnaps Lino's girlfriend Lola (Catalina Denis) to try to flush him out, at the same time taking receipt of a nuclear device he intends to use to hold the rest of Detroit to ransom.

Damien is sent in undercover to team up with Lino and convince him to help get to the bottom of the plot, and the race is on inside the tenements and streets of Brick Mansions as the boys have to fight, shoot, run and talk their way out of one scrape after another at the hands of Tremaine's small army of goons.

If you've watched any movie that depicts political authority in the last century you'll know excatly where it will all end up in the twist ending involving the senior police management and the mayor, that the bad guy will turn out to be a good guy when the chips are down (especially if he's black) and that the bickering partners will end up the best of friends.

There's a bit of fun to be had in the adrenaline-fuelled, fast-cut action, but it's Walker – God rest his soul – who you could watch reading a phone book.

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