You know those ridiculous action movies where a bad guy with, say, four large guns gets beaten up by a quick-witted good guy with absolutely zero guns? They’ve got nothing on Brick Mansions. A remake of 2004’s Luc Besson-scripted Banlieue 13, the thriller is essentially a long string of adrenaline-soaked sequences where our heroes — using the Gallic art of street gymnastics called parkour — defeat entire crowds of heavily armed villains simply by flipping and jumping faster than speeding bullets. There’s a plot, too, but it’s a lot less interesting: A narcotics cop (Paul Walker) grudgingly teams up with a DIY vigilante (David Belle) to take down a drug lord (RZA) in a dystopian Detroit where housing projects have become walled-off crime incubators thanks to the draconian mayor (Richard Zeman). Ready for more backflips yet?
Directed by Camille Delamarre, the movie has Besson’s comic-realism fingerprints all over it: There’s a smoking-hot supervillainess (Ayisha Issa) who wears a push-up bra to work, a rogue Russian nuclear device that somehow made its way to southeast Michigan, and a go-go-go efficiency to the story, as though the script were just a few pages of scribbled quotes and stick-figure explosions. It’s fun to watch at first. All that twirling and sliding is a nice change of pace from the usual seat-shaking pyrotechnics. And Walker, in one of his final roles, radiates the same golden-boy charisma that warmed the Fast & Furious series. But as the bar of realism lowers (of the approximately 1 quadrillion bullets fired in the movie, only one manages to graze Walker’s ear) so will your patience, until you’re half-tempted to try flipping your way out of the theater. C-