Friday, April 25, 2014

“Brick Mansions” – Would you rather…

…lick a frozen flagpole or watch Brick Mansions?

As an avid movie watcher and fan, I was getting a little nervous that I hadn’t seen a truly wretched movie released in 2014. This is upsetting because the summer movie season is only days away, there are a lot of movies I’m really looking forward to seeing, and what if one of those movies turns out to be the next A Good Day to Die Hard or After Earth or R.I.P.D.? Last year was almost completely devoid of decent popcorn flicks that I don’t know if I could handle two straight years of severe disappointment. Thankfully, Brick Mansions came along just in time to help settle those fears, even going so far as to make me list at least one redeemable quality in every terrible movie from last year. If you read what I wrote about some of those movies last year (including the three above), you know how difficult that is.

…take a punch from Ivan Drago or watch Brick Mansions?

I’m not a fan of Paul Walker, so please don’t be shocked when I tell you the last movie I saw him in was The Fast and the Furious. You read that right; I haven’t seen any Fast and Furious movie since the first one. I simply have no interest in the franchise. However, I did see Walker in what I would consider his peak, from 1998-2001, in which he did The Skulls, She’s All That, The Fast and the Furious, Varsity Blues, and Pleasantville. Across all of those films, Walker’s acting remains static, by which I mean he does not get better. And let’s not pretend that Walker was really much good in the first place. You’d think that thirteen years and nineteen movies would give him ample time to hone his craft, but you’d be wrong. His performance in Brick Mansions is just as one dimensional as any of those earlier performances, except it’s actually far worse. The sad thing is that his performance is orders of magnitude better than anyone else’s in the putrid Brick Mansions.

…eat Violet Beauregarde’s chewing gum or watch Brick Mansions?

Apparently, Brick Mansions is a remake of a 2004 French Film called District 13 that was written and produced by Luc Besson. Brick Mansions is also written and produced by Besson, though with help on the screenplay from Robert Mark Kamen. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of anyone remaking their own film, but if remakes are supposed to be improvements on the originals (theoretically), how bad was District 13 that an utter piece of shit like Brick Mansions was an improvement? And what the hell has happened to Besson’s writing? This is the same guy that wrote The Professional and Taken; two very, very good movies. Is Brick Mansions just a French prank that nobody understands?

…crawl up that sphincter in Evolution or watch Brick Mansions?

Right before the screening of Brick Mansions started, three guys got up in front of the audience and pitched the opening of their new parkour gym in Boulder. They said they were going to show us what parkour is and when they didn’t stop talking and someone finally asked, one of them did a backflip and said “that’s parkour.” Um, no it’s not; that’s gymnastics. If you’ve never heard of parkour, it’s because it’s a stupid internet meme that showed up several years ago and gained a small cult following of people that were bored with skateboarding. Essentially, in order to perform parkour, you simply run and hurdle over/around/through obstacles, sometimes using gymnastic moves to do it. That’s it. The other star of Brick Mansions is David Belle, one of the founders of parkour. Now this whole paragraph makes sense, except that it doesn’t, because now you are asking if this movie is really ninety minutes of Walker and Belle performing parkour through some brick mansions. Incidentally, that would have been a much better movie.

…test a bulletproof cup on yourself or watch Brick Mansions?

Instead, Walker is a Detroit cop (Damien) dedicated to avenging his father’s murder in a section of Detroit called Brick Mansions that has a giant wall around it for no reason other than poor people should be fenced off from the world (note: the characters in the film say “Brick Mansions” every chance they get because Besson really wanted to make sure you knew the title of the movie) because they don’t exist if we pretend they’re not there. Belle plays Lino, one of those poor people, who we meet as he is destroying several kilos of heroin in his bathtub. When the bad guys break into his building, he parkours his way through dozens of machine-gun wielding henchmen, hallways, roofs, and windows, finally escaping because those henchmen don’t understand that the bullets only come out when the trigger is pulled. After a failed attempt to rescue his kidnapped, ex-girlfriend Lola, he is forced to team up with Damien to take down the drug kingpin, Tremaine (RZA), who also happens to be the last guy on Damien’s list of vengeance. On the surface, this doesn't sound like the worst movie ever made, but I haven’t told you how the mayor of Detroit wants to destroy Brick Mansions in order to build new luxury buildings, as well as kill everyone inside the walls using a neutron bomb. Yeah, you’re nodding your head now, aren’t you?

…let a tarantula bite you on the testicles or watch Brick Mansions?

It’s not just the story that makes this such an atrocious film; it’s everything about the movie. You don’t have to wait long to see scenes that look like they were made by students who haven’t been potty-trained yet. The one that made me laugh the hardest was when Tremaine rallies his troops to go kill Damien and Lino and his giant henchmen (Robert Maillet; Sherlock Holmes) starts letting out guttural screams as they stream out in standard wedge formation. Even funnier still, the sound editing was so bad that the volume of his screams were toned down to the point where he sounded kind of strangled, but his face didn’t match the noise. As bad as the editing was, the dialogue was even worse, filled with every stupid cliché you could think of and consisting mostly of ‘damns’ and ‘shit dawgs’ and anything else you imagine street thugs and gang bangers say. In one scene, Walker is surrounded by cops pointing guns at him, he tells them he is a cop, and when they ask for his badge, he gives them the middle finger. In fact, one whole character seems to be a walking cliché – a cleavage-spilling, razor-wielding, super-bee-otch named Razor, who is obsessed with Lola’s breasts and wants to rape her. No, I didn’t make that up. But, this movie is PG-13. So, all she does is snarl and slice buttons off Lola’s shirt, while Lola glares right back and at one point they wrestle. I would have an easier time believing that the entire script was improvised than believing someone actually wrote this shit down.

…go to a public place with jizz in your hair or watch Brick Mansions?

It’s bad enough that Besson remade his own movie, but he doubles down by outright stealing from other movies. For one thing, sending Damien into a walled-off, lawless, wasteland to disarm a bomb while secretly being double-crossed, is a straight-up theft of Escape from Los Angeles. Later in the film, Tremaine reveals that he has strapped the bomb to a rocket and is threatening to shoot back at the heart of Detroit (I shook my head in derision at this – he will literally say the rocket has a range of only five miles – which is hilarious in itself; it’s a fucking rocket –which would still kill him) unless he gets $30 million. To further steal from The Rock, he will reveal that he is bluffing to his psycho cohort (Razor), who looks at him in disbelief as he says “I’m not willing to kill three million people. I’m not crazy.” We’re with you Razor; we don’t believe what we’re watching either.

…make out with Chet from Weird Science after his transformation or watch Brick Mansions?

In all my times watching movies in a theater, I have never had a more difficult time not walking out of the theater and not talking during the movie. I managed the first one only because it was an advanced screening and I wanted to make sure the organizers heard at least one person tell them how rotten this was. Unfortunately, I failed on the second one several times, continually asking my friend if the bad guys knew they were holding guns (for as many guys and guns present in the film they fire surprisingly few shots), asking if Damien purposely dropped a gun he had just taken from a bad guy so that he could beat up multiple, armed bad guys with a steering wheel cuffed to his wrist (Jackie Chan is shaking his head), or how the movie could possibly not be over yet (it was the longest 85 minutes in the history of the universe). The best way I can describe this movie in one sentence is…

…spend every movie the rest of the year sitting next to the bad B.O., curry-eating parkour dude who sat next to me… than watch Brick Mansions.

Rating: You’re shitting me. This isn’t a real movie. I would rather watch Will Ferrell and Cameron Diaz perform the Shakespearean porn version of The Last Airbender… than watch Brick Mansions.

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