Valdosta Daily Times

May 3, 2014

‘Brick Mansions’ needs a stronger foundation

The Associated Press

-- — “Brick Mansions” (Action/Crime: 1 hour, 30 minutes)

Starring: Paul Walker, David Belle and RZA

Director: Camille Delamarre

Rated: PG-13 (Strong violence, profanity, sexual menace and drug material)

Movie Review
: Mainly an editor for movies like “Taken 2” (2012) and “Colombiana” (2011), Director Delamarre helms this screenplay by Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri. Besson’s screenplays are rarely boring, but they are asinine and filled with unpersuasive material.

Damien Collier (Walker), an undercover Detroit cop, operates in a hazardous neighborhood called Brick Mansions. It is an area surrounded by a containment wall manned by military checkpoints. Collier plans to stop local crime lord Tremaine Alexander (RZA), who is in possession of a military explosive device. Collier’s task is to stop Alexander who plans to launch the explosive at downtown Detroit. To do this, Collier must work with ex-convict Lino (Belle). The mission will not be an easy one because Collier and Lino despise working with each other.  

Think of this as mixture of “Escape from L.A.” (Director John Carpenter, 1996) and “The Transporter” (Director Corey Yuen, 2002). Besson works for enjoyable entertainment, but it is far from believable. This is typical from Besson. It is as interesting as it is weak.

The main characters exist in a forced situation, where their associations are mere conventions of story convenience. This is Paul Walker’s last completed film before his death. Some are calling this Walker’s best role. Those saying this are letting Walker’s death emotionally affect them. Walker is bland here, and was never really a lead actor.

Walker’s co-star, Belle, is stuntman. His acrobatic and physical feats are impressive. Belle’s action scenes during the first 20 minutes are impressive, but otherwise he is nominal. RZA plays a mobster. He is as believable as a three dollar bill.

Of course, this screenplay is as unbelievable as its actors’ roles.  It is easy to sit through, but it is easier to forget.

Grade: C (A half-full mansion.)


“The Other Woman” (Comedy/Romance: 1 hour, 49 minutes)

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Director: Nick Cassavetes

Rated: PG-13 (Sensuality, sexual innuendo, strong language and thematic material)

Movie Review
: Three women find one man is cheating on them. They become fast friends, and moviegoers should cringe quickly.

Carly Whitten (Diaz) thinks she has the perfect gentleman, Mark King (Coster-Waldau). When she arrives at his home, she finds he is really married to Kate King (Mann). The two form an unusual friendship. Their twosome becomes a threesome when they find Amber (Upton), a younger pretty woman, is also sleeping with Mark. They decide to teach Mark a lesson. That lesson is a woman scorned should come with a warning label.

The acting is terrible. The cast is in a comedy, but their skills here are laughable. Diaz tries her best, and Upton is here just for her looks. Mann whines too much and is the annoying character. Together, these personas make “Other Woman” a long trip to revenge.

The first half is annoying. The second half is better. This makes the whole not half bad, which means it is not half good either.   

Cassavetes (“The Notebook,” 2004) directs this wayward comedy. The plot is a good premise poorly executed. The comedy is stupid material, rather than smart comedic moments.

Grade: C- (The other bad)


“The Quiet Ones” (Horror: 1 hour, 38 minutes)

Starring: Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Erin Richards, Olivia Cooke and Rory Fleck-Byrne

Director: John Pogue

Rated: R (Thematic elements, violence and nudity)

Movie Review:
With little frights, this horror presentation manages to be creepy in an old-fashion manner. However, it manages to remain quiet on delivering a final message because its ending scenes are poorly constructed.  

Oxford University psychology professor Joseph Coupland (Harris), his students, Krissi Dalton (Richards), Harry Abrams (Fleck-Byrne), and cameraman Brian McNeil (Claflin) relocate to a spacious countryside home to perform treatment experiments on Jane Harper (Cooke), a young woman experiencing paranormal events. Professor Coupland is determined to show Harper’s manifestations are created by her somewhat telekinetic abilities. However, more sinister elements may be at work.

For a horror-genre production, “The Quiet Ones” has everything right at its start: an able director-screenplay writer John Pogue (“Ghost Ship,” 2002), a good cast led by the talented Jared Harris, and good setup as inspired by actual events. These concepts work well together to produce some creepy scenes.

The basis for this screenplay is a previous one by Tom de Ville, which was inspired by actual events. Therefore, the framework is in place for a solid film. “Quiet Ones” is stereotypical at its beginning. A creepy old house is the setting, and a young woman who clearly looks as if something possesses her. Then, it nicely engages at its midpoint. It grows better with each moment because a mystery is present. The ending, however, misses the mark.

A neat plot slowly erodes during the last 25 minutes. The film moves from being a good throwback to yesteryears’ horror presentations to becoming a member of the mundane horror flicks of modern cinema. This part is sad since the film uses cinematography and characters well earlier in its runtime.

Ultimately, the film’s title suggests what the film becomes — the quiet ones. Some events are displayed, but they really tell audiences little.

Grade: C+ (Interesting but quiet for a horror.)