When Paul Walker died he was working on Fast Seven; but he also, just finished filming Brick Mansions, a remake of the French action film District B13. First off, the original movie was released only ten years ago, and the sequel was distributed only five years later. Needless to say, I was extremely surprised that this was getting a remake, but it was even more surprising that the writers and producers of the original returned. Yes, sometimes remakes have a producer from the original film, but very rarely do they have the same writers, producers, and star.
Now if you do not know, District B13 is a frantic 84 minute action movie, which highlights David Belle’s parkour skills. While parkour was a fad of Youtube, David Belle’s ‘animal-like’ movements light up the screen. And he makes what could have been an extremely dumb premise with a dated fad into an entertaining action flick. With that said, the synopsis is fairly simple: IMDB states it is “set in the ghettos of Paris in 2010, an undercover cop and ex-thug try to infiltrate a gang in order to defuse a neutron bomb.” Obviously, Paul Walker will be playing the undercover cop and the David Belle will reprise his role as the ex-thug.
Now, the trailer seems to show that the remake will keep the fast pace energy of the original; again, the remake is written by the same duo who wrote District B13, Luc Besson and Bibi Naceri. Fans may recognize Luc Besson’s name because he is the famous writer and director behind The Fifth Element, The Professional, La Femme Nikita, and last year’s underwhelming The Family (I tried sitting through it multiple times and was unable). On top of this, Besson’s EuropaCorp has produced a ton of mainstream action vehicles like The Transporter series, the Taken series, and several other European looking action films including Costner’s recent bomb 3 Days to Kill. However, the company usually makes cheap action films that easily make their money back; though 3 Days to Kill bombed, the movie cost ‘next to nothing.’ So in the end, it was not that big of a bomb.
The EuropaCorp’s title also means that District B13‘s violence will be toned down and the film is likely PG-13; while not all of the company’s films are PG-13, most of the time, the company tones down the violence in order to secure the lower rating. This lower MPAA rating usually secures a bigger box office, which is unfortunate because the stylized ‘over the top’ violence of the original was half of the movie’s charm. Last, Brick Mansions‘ director, Camille Delamarre, comes from the EuropaCorp family; he is making his directorial debut after editing Lockout, Columbiana, and Taken 2: editing these classics had to be the closest thing to a fraternity hazing ritual. ‘Oh you want to direct a film, well have fun editing this average action flick and two extremely horrific train wrecks.’ So as anyone can see, EuropaCorp is one big happy French family.
Joking aside, I cannot help but wonder is there any point to this remake? While I loved the original and I am not complaining about the remake, was there anyone going ‘you know what would be a great American movie, District B13.” To be honest, I am pretty sure if no one mentioned it was a remake, majority of the population would not know it was based on a French film. And though I am likely to see this in theaters, is the general public willing to shell out fourteen dollars to see this? Well before Paul Walker’s death probably not, but as horrific as that tragedy was, Brick Mansions might now make a ‘pretty penny.’ Either way, we shall see if the movie makes anything on April 25th. Will it be EuropaCorp’s second bomb of the year? Even if it is, I would not be too worried for that company; they crank movies out at an alarming pace. They have Taken 3, Transporter 4 (directed by Brick Houses’ Camille Delamarre), The Transporter Series on Cinemax, Luc Besson’s Lucy, and four other movies coming out in 2014 and 2015. Needless to say, EuropaCorp is not in danger of closing anytime soon.
Again, Brick Mansions comes out on April 25th and the movie features Paul Walker and David Belle, as well as, RZA playing the villainous Tremaine. If anyone wants to see the fantastic R-rated original, it is streaming on Netflix: the sequel is available too but I cannot vouch for its quality.