Each year around my birthday, a new Fast & Furious franchise film hits big screens to my deep joy. In no other films do lack of plot and surf culture dialogue marry special effects lighting on, in, and around fast cars…until now. Paul Walker’s last film, dedicated to his memory, is a screen gem to keep on the shelf next to his F&F series.
As an intentional movie viewer, it’s refreshing at times to take off the hat of a serious critic and replace it with the cap of zero expectation.
Brick Mansions features a parkour expert for the whole first hour, thrilling audiences with hurdles over unlocked doors. Doorknobs are for sissies who can’t handle the inner city life. His indistinguishable French accent ceases to be a problem as soon as he teams up with Paul Walker, who refuses to explain that he’s an undercover cop working with not against the man they all call “Frenchie.” They fight it out like so many battling brothers only to treat the streets like Channing Tatum would, with choreographed Step Up-esque moves, heavy brick throwing, and jumping action. The team has to rescue the girl who wears her school-girl uniform to her waitress job. Turns out she has moves too, and can take out the brute squad cat fem fatale in mini leather shorts and uncomfortable looking bustier.
The girl fight is far too weapon-enhanced and gruesome, but somehow they walk away unscathed. Herein lies the beauty of these game-to-life films: 9 lives, stolen rockets, briefcase bomb threats, and dirty politicians. But don’t worry, the ultimate bad guy drug lord eats his veggies and will run for Mayor in the end.
Two words that this wonder film lacked: Vin Diesel. Guess we’ll have to wait for FF7.
Thank you, Paul Walker. These words are not enough for the yearly joy you brought into my life and to so many others. You, your work, and your philanthropy will not be forgotten.
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