A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Brick Mansions is an American remake of the 2004 French action film District B13; both films highlight the sport/discipline known as parkour (moving efficiently through an environment using your body). Violence includes plenty of fighting and shooting, though for the most part it feels cartoonishly over the top and is light on blood. But minor characters do die, and a female character is shown in situations of menace or peril. Women are also shown wearing sexy outfits, though there's no nudity. Language includes the occasional use of "s--t," the "N" word, and "a--hole." A supporting character is a drug dealer, and great quantities of drugs (either cocaine or heroin) are shown. There's also some minor drinking and smoking. Star Paul Walker died in a car crash before release, and the movie is dedicated to him.
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What's the story?
In 2018 Detroit, the government has sealed off a dangerous neighborhood known as Brick Mansions to protect its citizens. Inside the district, the drug business -- led by Tremaine (RZA) -- thrives. Lino (David Belle) uses his parkour skills to try to stop Tremaine by intercepting a drug shipment. Meanwhile, a nuclear device has somehow made its way into the district, and undercover cop Damien (Paul Walker) has been sent to disarm it. He's been ordered to team up with Lino, who knows his way around. To make matters even worse, Tremaine has kidnapped Lino's girlfriend (Catalina Denis), and was also apparently responsible for the death of Damien's father. Can our heroes stop the bomb from going off, or will they discover a more sinister plot afoot?
Is it any good?
None of the characters in this movie is very smart, and their actions seldom make sense. In 2004, writer/producer Luc Besson created the terrific French-language action movie District B13, with Belle as its amazing, parkour-performing star. It was successful enough to warrant a sequel, District 13: Ultimatum (2010) ... and now comes the inevitable American remake, BRICK MANSIONS. Unfortunately, as things often do, the whole thing sounded better in French. Now even the overarching plot seems ridiculous, not to mention just about every twist and turn within.
For one thing, everyone in the movie seems rather easily fooled by each other. For example, two people somehow manage to escape a warehouse full of thugs simply by pointing a gun at the right person. This happens several times. But happily, rookie director Camille Delamarre does a fine job with the action sequences, refraining from too much camera-shaking and showing the parkour sequences in all their exhilarating glory.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Brick Mansions' violence. Did the characters ever seem to be in real danger? Would you have preferred more martial arts and fewer guns? How does the impact of what you see here compare to the kind of violence in a superhero movie? How about a horror movie?
Both of the main characters do what they do partly motivated by revenge. Why is revenge so powerful? Is it ever worth pursuing? Does it solve anything?
Is David Belle a role model in real life? What about his character in the movie? What does the character do that you wouldn't want to copy?
What do you think of the idea of the government sealing off an undesirable neighborhood? Can you think of any real-life events that are similar?
- In theaters: April 25, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: September 9, 2014
- Cast: Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA
- Director: Camille Delamarre
- Studio: Relativity Media
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: frenetic gunplay, violence and action throughout, language, sexual menace and drug material
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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