"Brick Mansions," Paul Walker's penultimate film (prior to "Fast & Furious 7"), is a dumb and ugly action picture that works strictly as a reminder of the late actor's head-turning good looks and modest charisma. Otherwise, this remake of the 2004 French thriller "District B13," directed by Camille Delamarre (editor of "Transporter 3" and "Taken 2"), is a dizzying mishmash of showy stunts, muddled narrative and some seriously risible acting and dialogue.
Prolific filmmaker Luc Besson's screenplay, faithfully adapted from the "B13" script he wrote with Bibi Naceri, has relocated this dystopian crime tale from 2006 Paris to 2018 Detroit (as if the Motor City didn't have enough image problems). It's centered on a bleak, government-quarantined housing project called Brick Mansions, home to the city's most lawless criminals.
The worst of the bunch: ruthless drug kingpin Tremaine (rapper-actor-director RZA), who's in possession of an old Russian surface missile that's, y'know, poised for destruction.
Enter Damien Collier (Walker), an upright cop sent undercover to bring down Tremaine, whom Collier believes murdered his policeman dad. But to infiltrate Brick Mansions, Damien must pair up with its longtime resident, Lino (David Belle, reprising his role from "B13"), a "French Caribbean ex-pat" (really?), ex-con and vigilante whose ex-girlfriend (Catalina Denis) Tremaine has kidnapped. The acrobatic Lino also conveniently sports killer combat skills, which are put to eye-popping use here. (Belle co-founded Parkour, a propulsive discipline that uses swift, efficient body movements to conquer environmental obstacles.)