The last film starring Paul Walker to have been completed before he sadly passed away last year features him as an undercover cop buddying up with French legend David Belle, one of the founders of parkour (which gave rise to free running), as the local resident of Brick Mansions who has fallen foul of the drug running crime lord in charge of the downtrodden area of future Detroit, and who represents a way in for the law to diffuse a stolen nuclear bomb due to go off in a matter of hours. It’s a remake of the French film ‘District 13’ (04 – also starring David Belle) which helped bring parkour to international prominence in the first place, with now perhaps the most famous instance of it on film being the first chase sequence in ‘Casino Royale’ (06).
The story isn’t too bad, and the action has been well choreographed, but it’s just too silly to be believed and it manages to be very stale from start to finish. In Casino Royale it was used to good effect, but here it mainly seems to be for show – we see Belle’s character trying to make an escape early on, and his physical feats to do it are very impressive – quickly taking him far from his would be pursuers, and yet there they are again, no matter how many floors or buildings he leaps and bounds around/over, ubiquitous bad guys are waiting to start the chase all over again, which is just a bit daft. The acting is good overall, with support from RZA, Catalina Denis and Ayisha Issa, but despite a few moments of playfulness it’s no more interesting than watching other showpieces for the physical activity.
Interestingly, the big guy that can be seen behind the two leads in the picture above is Robert Maillet, who moved from WWF wrestling as Kurrgan (taking his name from the villain, The Kurgan, in 1986’s cult classic ‘Highlander’, a name itself derived from the theorised early Indo-European people) into film and who you might recognise as having played other fairly memorable ‘heavy roles’, chief among them his first big-screen appearance as the giant immortal Persian warrior in ‘300’ (06).