By Anthony J. Machcinski
Sometimes you just don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Such is the case with the late actor Paul Walker.
During his career, Walker became famous for his role as Brian O’Conner in “The Fast and the Furious” film series, but never could see much success outside the adrenaline-fueled series.
Before his death in a car accident last November, Walker had three films that had been completed but not yet released.
“Brick Mansions,” which came out in April, was one of those final movies. It finally seemed like the film where Walker found his niche as an actor.
In his early movies, Walker was often cast as the blond-haired, blue-eyed California good guy – as exemplified by the first “The Fast and the Furious” movie in 2001. While Walker excelled here in his role as the pretty boy cop, he could not successfully replicate the same type of character in other films.
However, the latest installments of “The Fast and Furious” series rejuvenated his career. While many attributed this to the success of the franchise and not Walker’s acting, “Brick Mansions” proves that to be false.
In “Brick Mansions,” Walker plays Det. Damien Collier, a Detroit cop who teams up with vigilante Lino Dupree (played by David Belle) to stop drug lord Tremaine Alexander (played by rapper RZA).
While films prior to “Brick Mansions” miscast Walker as the pretty boy, this film places Walker in the role he was born to play – the unlikely thrill seeker who takes chances to accomplish the mission.
From the opening seconds of the movie, adrenaline junkies are thrown right into the action, with Walker chasing down criminals by any means possible.
Breakout for Belle?
While Walker shines throughout the film, Belle could become the next breakout action star with “Brick Mansions” as his foundation. Prior generations of action films had their own breakout stars that brought with them a certain style of action.
Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger brought big muscles and bigger guns to create their own action. Jet Li and Jean-Claude Van Damme used speed and martial arts to create their action stardom.
Belle, however, could spawn the next action film revolution with a parkour-infused fighting style.
Parkour, a holistic training regimen developed in France, is the idea of getting from one point to another in the quickest way possible. This involves jumping over walls, climbing fences, jumping down staircases and mainly, getting through obstacles in the quickest way possible.
Belle was one of the primary developers of parkour in France and bringing him in for this film just added value to the film’s already great plot. Throughout the film, Belle can be seen jumping off walls to punch an enemy, sliding through their legs and using his parkour knowledge to run away from the bad guys.
It is this unique style of parkour-infused fight scenes that separates “Brick Mansions” from other action films. Viewers would be hard-pressed to find another action film that showcases a more unique style of fighting.
While the action scenes in the film will amaze viewers throughout the film, the plot will keep them in their seats. Even with many of the film’s actors – Walker as the exception – being lesser names, the acting in the film is superb and filled with an energy that bigger names may not have been able to back up.
As a whole, “Brick Mansions” was worth more than the price of admission. While the movie may not capture much attention in the leadup to the summer movie season, it could still become a big break for many of the lesser known actors, like Belle, as well as a capstone to the career of Paul Walker.
For those points alone, this movie gets an 8.5 out a possible 10.