Helmed by French editor-director Camille Delamarre in his feature debut, from a script jointly written by Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen, Ryan Amon, and Bibi Naceri, ‘Brick Mansions’ is an action-thriller hood movie with a healthy dose of chase sequences, gun violence, and stunning parkour. The 2014 movie models itself upon the previous French action blockbuster ‘District B13.’ As far as the story goes, it is standard fare, really. A lawful hero teams up with another (who does not care for it) to rid a ghetto of its imminent doom.
Cars are crashing, cars are getting hijacked, and people are falling on the roof of cars. Coupled with a militarized ghetto steeped in drug violence and a scheming and corrupt government, this movie does not aim for critical success but keeps the genre fans content. Paul Walker of ‘Fast and Furious’ fame plays the role of the ignorant protagonist, and David Belle, the founding figure of parkour, leads the way. Apart from the major plot holes, the ending of the movie is seemingly well-rounded. But some questions may linger in the mind of the viewer. If you are looking for answers, let’s take you back to the no-go zone. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Brick Mansions Plot Synopsis
The film begins in a heavily militarized and segregated ghetto of Detroit, which is known as Brick Mansions. Since its inception as a housing project, the neighborhood has turned into a nightmare for law enforcement. French ex-pat Lino is in the process of draining down 20 kilos of heroin. Meanwhile, henchman K2 and his team arrive on the scene to give Lino a hard time. Lino makes a daring escapade, jumping from rooftop to rooftop.
K2 works for local drug mafia Tremaine Alexander. After Lino gets away, Tremaine asks K2 to get hold of Lino’s girlfriend, Lola. Lola is kidnapped by the goons, and Tremaine is about to start negotiating with her. In the meantime, Lino makes a daring entry from the rooftop, and all hell breaks loose. At the end of the ruckus, Lino and Lola take Tremaine to the military. But the military is in league with the gangsters, and while Lino gets locked up in a cell, Tremaine and his army depart with the girl.
On the other hand, detective Damien Collier works undercover to capture a drug network. We meet him in the middle of an operation. He enters a covert drug production facility as a handler for George the Greek. His team waits outside to infiltrate the facility at an opportune time. But in the face of hostility, Damien reveals his identity and almost jeopardizes the mission.
George attempts evasion, but Damien manages to deliver him to the police station in person after a taut chase sequence. Apparently, Tremaine and his men have hijacked a police vehicle and accidentally activated a neutron bomb. On his next mission, Damien teams up with Lino to save the neighborhood, but a final twist moves the focus from the drug mafia to the corrupt government. In the end, life in the ghetto returns to normalcy by the grace of the new sheriff.
Brick Mansions Ending: Does the Bomb Go Off?
This is the question that hooks us to the narrative. A bomb is about to go off, and the heroes must rush to save the city. When Damien and Lino go to the base of Tremaine on a suicide mission, Tremaine makes Damien an offer. The mafia boss shows them the bomb from a distance, which is tied to a Russian missile targeted at the downtown city. Like a true businessman, Tremaine wants to sell the bomb against lump-sum money of 30 million at 10 dollars per person. That is perhaps a reasonable amount, and Damien calls his superiors to ask them to do the transfer.
The city hardly has that kind of money, and there is no deal. Damien still plays along, pretending that the superiors are making the transfer as directed. The shadowy bank does not open for another 25 minutes, and Damien and Lino are taken to a cell to wait till the money is being moved. However, Damien tells Lino about the reality — that they are on their own. Lino feigns sickness, they take the guard out, and the heroes make a run for their lives. After some more sumptuous parkour sequences, Lino and Damien take out the thugs. But a sniper is still shooting at them from a rooftop. The duo reaches the roof to take him out.
Tremaine finds out that Damien lied about the authority sending the money. Moreover, they are liquidating the money that is in Tremaine’s account. An enraged Tremaine is about to activate the bomb, but Damien shoots at the signal receiver, and the missile does not leave the stand. On the rooftop, Tremaine changes his mind about blowing up the city, but Rayzah strives to take control of the device. In the meantime, Lola kicks Rayzah off the rooftop. Damien gets the code to deactivate the bomb, but the code is co-incidentally identical to the postal code of the area. While the bomb doesn’t go off, Damien, Lino, Tremaine, and all his mafia thugs visit the mayor’s office for a confrontation.
Why Did the Mayor Plant the Bomb to Blow Up the Ghetto?
As the finality of the story suggests, the mayor planted the bomb in the area to blow it up. The film presents before us a grim look at the problem of gentrification. In a dystopian world, a mayor above the law thinks that eliminating the hapless people would stop the crimes in an impoverished neighborhood. When briefing the operation to Damien, the mayor says that Tremaine and his thugs hijacked a vehicle and took control of the bomb.
But as Tremaine later divulges, the vehicle carrying the bomb had minimum security around it. He becomes suspicious since the hijacking seems too easy to him in retrospect. The movie shows us a world where the government and the military are corrupt. But perhaps no government or military in their sane state would allow a nuclear bomb to fall into the hands of criminals. They would also not transport the bomb in a minimum-security vehicle just to set up a trap. This is where the movie does not add up, but it is a movie, after all.
Does Damien Quit the Force? Who Killed Damien’s Father?
After the video in the media ruins the reputation of the diabolical mayor, Damien seemingly quits his job. As Tremaine and Lino talk some sense into Damien, he throws his badge in an impulsive feat. Tremaine and Lino are right in their deduction. The bomb was indeed set up by the corrupt authority to blow up the neighborhood. The mission was quite personal for Damien, as he was informed that Tremaine killed his father in an operation.
But as Tremaine divulges, Damien’s father was killed by the military themselves. There is a rotten smell of a big cover-up all over the narrative. But in the finality, the peace of the neighborhood is reinstated, and Tremaine is running for mayoral elections. The schools and hospitals have reopened, and as the ending of the film sees Damien running errands in the ghetto, we believe that he is still the unofficial sheriff of the neighborhood.
Read More: Where Was Brick Mansions Filmed?