“Revenge and justice are not the same!” –Grandfather Collier (Frank Fontaine)
The November 30th untimely death of Fast and Furious star Paul Walker is followed by his first posthumous project, Brick Mansions. Walker stars as a Detroit detective who is seeking revenge and justice for the unlawful death of his father. After being summoned for a special assignment from the Mayor’s office, Detective finally gets his opportunity to uphold vengeance on his father’s death and save the poverty-stricken city. With the help of an inmate and Brick Mansions native, Lino (David Belle), the two devised an uneducated plan to sneak in the urban redevelopment to take down drug kingpin, Tremaine (RZA).
The Wu Tang Clan member was teeter totting during the entire film. Some moments, I was like “yeah, that’s gangsta” and then, other times, the rapper just came off as corny and cheesy. RZA had a few too many cliché ad libs making the serious scenes unbelievably scripted. RZA gets mad cool points for his attempts in making his strong New York accent sound like he could actually point out Detroit on a map.
Paul Walker was nothing short of decent. He gets behind the wheel a few times creating Fast and Furious flashbacks, which was pretty heartwarming. But Walker’s last performance could not save the straight-to-DVD feel of the movie.
In its opening weekend, Brick Mansion scraped together $9.5 million in earnings and at this rate, it would take three weeks for the movie to even reach its $28 million budget. I assumed the circumstances of Paul Walker sudden death would generate a bigger buzz for the movie. But, I was wrong. The timing for the movie’s release was bad too. There are still great movies in theatres like Captain America, Rio 2, and the biggest theatrical surprise, Heaven is For Real.
One central issue the movie raises is political and government corruption, exposing politicians with hidden agendas. In the movie, the city of Detroit’s most impoverished neighborhood is in jeopardy and secluded from the rest of the Motor City’s population. We see it here in Pittsburgh. Northview Heights has a one way in, one way out “safety” measure, completely isolating the “gated” community from the rest of the city. With no immediate plans to restore or refurbish one of the only projects left in Pittsburgh, we have to question the political motives in maintaining its existence.
As the primary elections are gaining on our heels to jump over the first hurdle in electing a new Pennsylvania governor, Brick Mansions remind us that we must take charge in the appointment of local officials too. Low-income urban areas have to become stakeholders in political gain and power. Because according to the movie, the livelihood and co-existence depends on it.
2 Stars: Because of Paul Walker’s last full performance as an actor, I hate to bash the movie but Brick Mansions’ strong parts were outweighed with the unnecessary foolishness of unseasonable fighting and overworked plugs.