When Banlieue 13 was released in 2004 it felt fresh. It displayed parkour on screen for the first time in a movie which was nothing more than a demo reel for the movie’s stars David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli. A sequel followed and parkour turned up in various Hollywood movies like Casino Royale. Now, ten years later, someone thought it would be a good idea to remake the original with Paul Walker for the star power and have David Belle return for the exposition since all of Walker’s stunts are done by a stunt man. In terms of plot basically nothing changes as this is a carbon copy of the original.
In the near future an area of Detroit which is considered to be so dangerous it has been surrounded by a guarded containment wall creating somewhat of a prison/mini-civilization. Behind this wall good people try to survive while bad people sell drugs and stuff, you know the usual. Lino (David Bell) has taken up a vendetta against notorious drug kingpin Tremaine Alexander (RZA). Long story short: RZA has gotten hold of a missile which he points to the rest of Detroit and will fire unless they give him money, Belle has to team up reluctantly with an undercover cop (Walker) and run/jump/fight a lot to retrieve the missile as well as Lino’s ex-girlfriend who’s also held hostage by RZA.
This was the last fully completed movie by Walker who died while still filming Fast & Furious 7 and unlike Heath Ledger this swan song won’t win him any posthumous awards. He plays basically the same character he has been doing in the Fast & Furious series as well as the underrated Running Scared. The movie has him running around, driving fast cars and doing the choreographed fight scenes of which every Hollywood star is capable of nowadays. David Belle gets to show off that at the age of 40 he still shows no signs of slowing down. Sadly he also shows there’s not much more to him than his acrobatic skills. Unless he can find a steady stream of simple action movies and become this generation’s Steven Seagal my guess is his filmography will remain small.
Those who have never seen the two Banlieue movies or other movies featuring Parkour this might be a an enjoyable no-brainer, but for me it was something I had already seen before ten years ago in a movie that at the time pleasantly surprised me. It’s like a certain delicious meal at a restaurant you had a long time ago… chances are that when you go there today and order the same it will not have the same impact it did the first time. Brick Mansions on its own might be a fun action flick, but being a carbon copy remake it felt like they warmed up last night’s left-overs.