French style becomes American pulp!
As you might expect from an American remake, Brick mansions is bigger and more expensive than its French predecessor. The opening scene alone which presents the names of cast & crew is so innovatively done that you can almost smell the money, it’s that spectacular! After all, Brick mansions is a very fun movie that never seems to bores! Still, not everything is all rosy …
Banlieue 13 was a massive success in France because it was such a deliciously tasty action movie. Most especially the stunts and the dazzling somersaults, the climbing & jumping from one roof to the next and the superfast Martial Arts-fistfights were unlike anything ever made in the Land of Champagne & Wine. Kudos to the two main performers, David Belle & Cyril Raffaelli, who also did most – if not all – of their own stunt work …
Also chapeau (French for ‘hat off’ as in ‘I’m so impressed, I take my hat off’) for producer Luc Besson who didn’t just pen down the French movie, but also wrote the screenplay for the American remake. Of perhaps not?? Perhaps he just had someone translate the French script in English …
You see, the disadvantage of the new Paul Walker-movie is how it follows the old French script, almost to the letter. The only real satisfaction of this American remake is hidden within the action. Both the story as well as its characters are fairly unmemorable replicas of something some Frenchman scribbled on a piece of paper a long time ago …
Ignorance is bliss, as it turns out! If you haven’t seen the French movie Banlieue 13, then you will most likely thoroughly enjoy Brick mansions. Both movies – very similar in atmosphere and structure – are amazing thrill rides bearing silly dialogues and incredible action sequences, ultimately giving you value for money.
Of course, for those who DID see the original movie, it might prove to be a bit of a challenge to enjoy this remake. You will probably gnash your teeth and bite your nails as every single scene is shamelessly copied without any spark of inspiration, almost as if the director filmed his remake whilst watching the original one. It’s actually unbelievable if you think about it! Every character and each plot twist, even the choreography of the fighting, is seamlessly simulated to the smallest detail! Why?? Why not try something new? This is one mistake that could’ve been avoided …
As it goes, Brick mansions only brings two new things to the table. First, the relationship between Paul Walker and his father (because the son-father affair was left untouched in the original French flick) and we also get a bad guy of a different gender (because in Banlieue 13 all criminals were male, pfff, how short-sighted!)
Then again, the casting doesn’t look as fresh as in the original French movie.
Main player Paul Walker may have proven to be the best choice to star in the Fast & Furious-series, but doing ‘Parkour’ seems a stretch too far! (Click here if you don’t know what Parkour is!) Bravo for him! He does whatever he can – and as a genuine movie buff it’s not easy to see him so full of energy knowing the man is not alive anymore – but standing/jumping next to David Belle, one has to be at the top of their game in order to be noticed.
Truthfully, Paul Walker is a fine actor, but none of the stunts that you see in the movie were actually his. Understandably so as it’s very hard to do, but why copy the original French movie, only to grab two actors instead of just one who know how to perform ‘Parkour’ …
David Belle on the other hand does everything himself! Understandably so. The Frenchman isn’t just the first best choice for the role (or perhaps he is!), he is the absolute number 1-stunt coordinator in France! There is literally no one better than him!
Better yet: the man is the inventor and ‘architect’ behind the esteemed, art-academic and highly physical sport known as ‘Parkour’, which means he can jump faster and farther than none other. The Circque du Soleil-athletic way when he clears dangerous obstacles or squeezes through the narrowest of tiny holes in the wall with an unprecedented agility is enough to bring shame to every stuntman working in Hollywood …
After all, Brick mansions is not a normal everyday action movie, but a ‘Parkour’-display where spectacular fitness-exercises and super-dangerous stunts are THE greatest attraction! Just don’t try anything like this at home or you might wake up in the hospital … or not at all. This is dangerous stuff, ladies & gentlemen!
Even the bad guy in Brick mansions, nothing more than a middle-of-the-road performance from RZA, is low-fat yoghurt compared to the rather unpleasant yet all the more interesting performance of Bibi Naceri in Banlieue 13.
But let’s end with a positive note, shall we? There is one person who gives us great fireworks! And that is actress Ayisha Issa. Her character is entirely new and was exclusively written for the American version so as to give it some little bit of ingenuity. She stars as the deliciously-sexy Rayzah who is by far the most interesting bad guy running out, primarily because of her masochistic tendencies and lusty wiles.
Or how one short scene between two women will drive every man crazy!
did you know?
When Paul Walker tells David Belle to buckle up, the Frenchman replies with, “I’d rather be free”. This is an obvious nod to Parkour which he invented, also being known as Free Running.
Give it to me straight:
Let’s start with a question, shall we? Did you or did you not see the French film Banlieue 13? If not: by all means, watch Brick mansions and enjoy! It’s a fun albeit simple popcorn flick.
If you DID watch the original, then be prepared to be anything but bewildered! Because even though Brick mansions is a super-fun thrill ride from minute One till the end credits, it’s also a very cheap show that doesn’t always know how to win you over.
Paul Walker acts on Cruise Control – meaning he does well but feels right at home in this particular genre – but he is a distant second next to the inhumanely athletic superman David Belle. Not only does this man perform all of his own stunts, but he’s also the one who invented the compelling free-base jumping style known as ‘Parkour’. And unfortunately for Paul Walker it shows. Mind you, he is the better actor but he fades to the background, once David Belle shows his Olympic bag of tricks.
But the real evildoer that keeps this movie from flourishing isn’t any of the bad guys in the movie, it’s the lack of originality! Producer Luc Besson (who also penned down the script for the original French flick) has made things very easy for himself! What he did was, he simply took every aspect of the French movie and translated them in English.
Both movies appear to be twins (perhaps not identical, but still). And precisely thát is the reason why Brick mansions is a low-priced maisonnette and not a classy villa!