By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Charles Taylor
By Melissa Anderson
By Inkoo Kang
By Amy Nicholson
By Sam Weisberg
Or like Paul Walker, who'd completed his role as Collier in Brick Mansions prior to his death in a high-speed auto accident in November. Walker was best known for the The Fast and the Furious franchise; the producers of the upcoming seventh installment are using his two brothers and some digital sorcery to finish the picture and write Walker's character out of the series. Brick Mansions includes two different scenes of Walker crashing a car at high speed. Should the producers have removed these? I don't think so. The guy specialized in car-chase movies. Certainly they might have done a more tasteful job of the chintzy-looking onscreen dedication to Walker that pops up before the end credits.
Walker replaces B13's Cyril Raffaelli, who subsequently demonstrated his own parkour skills as a bad guy in Live Free or Die Hard (earning the epithet "damn hamster!" from that yippie-kai-yayin' quip machine John McClane) but has mostly stayed out of American pictures. There's no getting around the fact that Raffaelli was a more convincing physical match for Belle, because like Belle, he's an athlete first — his credits on IMDB as a stunt coordinator far outnumber his credits as an actor.
Walker? He was an actor, one blessed with more affability than range. His line readings aren't much more persuasive than Belle's, who is working in his second language. Physically, Walker keeps up well enough, and the film gets a few laughs out of his disbelieving reaction shots whenever Belle performs some bravura gymnastic feat that Walker's character is supposed to emulate. At least he isn't playing second banana to Vin Diesel anymore, the poor guy.
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