There are definitely some improvements over the original material in this American remake of Besson’s District B-13. In particular, the acting and some of the plot aspects are better considered and worked though. As one of Walker’s (Fast & Furious 6) last films, though, it isn’t going to seal his place in history. Still, it was relatively entertaining on its own.
The truth, however, is that this reinterpretation lost a lot of the lightness and fun of the original, which was really more a fantasy actioner than a serious one. That oddness was part of both its success and its failures. This new version is just so earnest that it is painful at times. The premise is absurd in both films, though Detroit is a great setting for the plot in Brick Mansions. However, playing it for real stretched credibility, and the chemistry of the main players was all wrong. It needed to be a Rush Hour sort of experience (heck, they even stole at least one of the fight scenes from that franchise), but neither the writer nor director seemed to understand that aspect; it was a mistake on both their parts.
Additionally, the filming of the action was not nearly as good as B-13. Whether that was to cover a weaker Parkour fighter or simply style choices is beside the point. The simple truth is that they lost the jaw dropping choreography that made the original fly (and still does today). It isn’t that there aren’t some good fights, but the quick cuts diminish the believe-ability that a continuous shot approach could provide.
All in all, I’d stick with the original. This isn’t horrible, but it isn’t as much fun on almost any level as Besson’s first crack at this story, even with the outlandishness of a lot of that script. Director Delamarre’s background in editing action films (Colombiana, Lockout) did not really prepare him for this new role. But if you’ve not seen the original and don’t want to deal with subtitles, it may provide enough entertainment, if not quite the same value, as District B-13