Brick - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Brick Reviews

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Super Reviewer
May 21, 2007
Hard-boiled High.

You know the gimmick right? OC kids do Dashell Hammett - the Maltese Falcon played out in a schoolyard. They keep the undecipherable language and the familiar yet byzantine plot but then - they throw out almost everything else you associate with the genre.

Whatever, let's do this:

OK - I liked the visuals, the music and most of the acting - it really is a very well crafted debut. At the end of the day however, it all results merely in a promising but rather slight exercise in style. The premise is simply impossible to sustain and even if it is, it wasn't.
Super Reviewer
November 9, 2015
While some may get more out of it than others, "Brick" is the type of film that you either choose to go along with or you don't. As Brendan discovers his ex-girlfriend has been murdered, he begins to uncover the mystery by working with an underground crew of drug dealers. While you may think all of the answers are given by the end of this film, I surely think the opposite. They try very hard to explain everything through the visuals and through excessive amounts of dialogue, and I think that worked about 75% of the time. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is great as the leading man and director Rian Johnson does a great job for his first ever feature film. With incredibly intriguing cinematography, a great (yet complex) script, and energetic editing, "Brick" is a very solid film. It definitely warrants multiple viewings in order to understand the full message being given. I would highly recommend this movie to film junkies. Other than that, I feel this film will leave too much to be desired. Personally, as a whole, I think this is a great film!
Super Reviewer
August 14, 2013
A mystery with nothing to really figure out, ala the all-tell-no-show style of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." The scenes are terribly episodic, and they don't show HOW our hard-boiled Encylopedia Brown solves any of the cryptic clues. The scenes merely jump from Brendan following flimsy lead after flimsy lead, then getting beat up, then calling someone to set up something for some reason, then confronting another someone who was implicated in an earlier scene without revealing his thought process. The script suffocates from too much plot and hardly any connective tissue, and it's all covered up with this overcooked, pseudo-hip noir patois. The characters don't SAY anything; they're just written to sound unique.

The big reveal in the end is also anticlimactic. The baby is Tug's and arguably only tangentially related to the drug plot. Emily's first phone call filled with intentionally confusing jargon about "the brick" and "Pin" and "Frisco" is all just a ham-handed inciting incident catalyzing this wild goose chase. The filming is chic and cool with the zooms during the fight scenes and the high class, vaguely "Eyes Wide Shut" high school environment, but the style doesn't atone for the lack of substance.
Super Reviewer
½ May 12, 2011
I know this film is several years old, but it makes me happy to see that we still have films being released once in a while that are unique and original, and not a sequel, remake, or just a rehash of the same old crap.

This was my second time seeing a Rian Johnson film, and this is where it's at. I know it came out before The Brothers Bloom, but hey, I can't always get to see a director's films in order.

This film is a hard-boiled detective mystery (complete with period slang) which is already cool, but made even cooler by the fact that it is set in contemporary times at an unnamed high school somewhere in California. Awesome.

This film isn't merely just a nod to a genre though. It stands on its own and is a very compelling and really well made thriller that, if nothing else, could at least get people interested in the stuff that inspired it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is at the center of this tale about an everryman thrust into a situation that quickly sees him in over his head and on very unstable ground as he tries to piece together the truth surrounding a phone call that got him in the mess to begin with.

The film has a great sense of style, look, and atmosphere. The material, which involves drugs and murder, is suitably grim, but thankfully there's some wry humor sprinkled throughout to take the edge of (slightly).

The film seems a bit hard to follow at first, but that's kinda the fun of it. For those who can't keep up though, it all gets answered in the end, so there. This might be a sign that the script could have been better at clarifying things, but I prefer to see it as a way of making the viewer engage with it and think, instead of just sitting there.

This is some really good stuff, and I'm glad I finally saw it. You should not hesitate to do the same.
Super Reviewer
July 11, 2009
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lukas Haas, Nora Zehetner, Noah Segan, Noah Fleiss, Emilie de Ravin, Meagan Good, Richard Roundtree, Matt O'Leary, Brian J. White, Lucas Babin, Ari Welkom

Director: Rian Johnson

Summary: When a secret crush turns up dead and the murderer is anyone's guess, teenage loner Brendan Fry (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is forced to navigate his school's social network through intense interactions with thespians, band geeks and druggies (including a grown-up Lukas Haas).
My Thoughts: "I must admit when I watched it, I was a little confused at the begining, but it unravels as it goes. I found it to be intriguing. Its such a different kind of film. I have never seen a movie like this before so it was a great surprise. Joesph Gordon-Levitt was really good in this movie. I have never seen him do a role like this and he was great. It was fast paced and never lost interest. I think its deffinetly a film worth seeing. Loved it..
Super Reviewer
½ September 9, 2012
Brick is an odd little movie, packed with style and unwavering in its own special tone. There are a bit too many characters and not enough explanation, but any fan of film noir or Joseph Gordon-Levitt will likely walk away impressed by writer/director Rian Johnson's attention to detail.
Super Reviewer
½ September 13, 2012
'Brick' is a fluid film that strikes all the right chords. The idea of a noir-type film set in a high school was brilliant to me, and Rian Johnson did not disappoint. The acting is subtle but assured, the music is purposeful and haunting, and the cinematography is awesome for such a small budget. The plot isn't always easy to follow and some of the dialogue can be confusing, but Johnson handles the whole production with a steady hand. This is one filmmaker to watch for.
Super Reviewer
April 8, 2007
After a panicky phone call from an ex-girlfriend, a high school student finds her dead and sets out to find out what happened to her. My first thought about this film was "Heathers rip-off". This soon became "David Lynch lite". But then it became something wholly different; it was as if I were watching the film evolve as it unfolded. Essentially it's a film noir relocated to a high school. All the types are present; cynical loner as self-destructive anti-hero seeking atonement for some past crime, the intellectual nerd as steetwise sidekick, prom queen as manipulative femme fatale, high school musical diva as gold digging vamp and dope dealing stoner as the petty hood cum stool pigeon. These characters are so well realised and "adult", you often forget the whole school setting, and the director cleverly reminds you from time to time with wit and humour; the fact that the sinister "kingpin" still lives with his mom a prime example. The hardboiled dialogue is especially well recreated, the machine gun delivery almost too snappy; I found myself rewinding the DVD so I didn't miss anything. The use of light and shadow is also particularly effective, especially when Gordon-Levitt is "enlightened" with the use of a mirror in a darkened basement. This film shows an understanding of the genre rarely seen outside of a Tarantino flick, and has single-handedly restored my faith in indie cinema after recently enduring the dismal You And Me And Everything That Blows. Rian Johnson is definitely a name I will be looking out for in the future.
Super Reviewer
September 30, 2006
Excellent Noir style movie. Well paced, well acted and a sharp script. Certainly worth a look if you prefer your films with substance over style.
Super Reviewer
½ January 7, 2010
A detective story.

Not bad. The mood and plot of the movie for me didn't overwhelm me or satisfy me in any way. While there was excellent acting from Joseph Gordon-Levitt everyone else pretty much sucked. I thought the ending was just bad. I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an actor and I will continue watching his films with much expectations, hopefully in the next I won't be disappointed.

Set in high school yet stylized like an old detective movie, this intriguing film follows our hero/detective character Brendan - a high school student who prefers to steer clear of the cliques and crowds and their wild shenanigans. That is until his ex girlfriend Emily is found dead in a storm drain only 2 days after receiving a frantic and confusing call from her on a payphone. Determined to find out what happened to her Brendan along with school genius "Brain" has to sift through the upper class elite of the high school students including the jocks, stoners and seductive drama students. As they do so Brendan discovers that Emily's death is linked to something darker and far more serious than they could have imagined.
Super Reviewer
October 17, 2010
Brick is a gimmicky film, which relies abundantly on its premise and follows through with as many pitfalls as promising plots. Brick tries hard on so many levels to make the character of Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) into a serious hard boiled detective type. In the world of noir, he is our Marlowe, our Dalmas if you will, but there is something so nonplussed when it comes to his tragedy, that much of the film suffers from it. Every character is well placed and fleshed out, but their acting force is overshadowed by the explosive concept. That concept is a high school setting playing out the same kinds of noir storylines with a different kind of protagonist. Much of this is limited by that, but the movie itself was brilliant in so many ways. The language that these kids use is almost undecipherable, as it's fast and direct. Our main character is brusque, thoughtful, but clichà (C)d and ruthless as well. He speaks with his confidantes and the suspects surrounding the investigation in such a hard nosed manner that much of the film loses its believability. Much more unbelievable is the fact that none of these supposed high school students misunderstand anything he says. No character lacks intelligence, is subdued by the thickness of this plot, and there isn't even a distinction between the characters as a whole. The popular kids being popular is mentioned considerably, but there aren't any other factions, and I still can't understand how Brendan is so irresistible and sustainable though he looks, sounds, and acts like an outcast. Besides that, it was a noir with body and emphasis on the crude, which we never see. Usually noirs are classy and don't cater to that branch of bloody thriller. Though Brick crosses that line of formality with fistfights, drive-bys, and considerable gunplay, it's never out of place or tawdry. The music was sensational, the timeline was disturbing, the supporting characters knew their place, and though there really wasn't a true femme fatale, there was sexual tension. The film even makes fun of itself by pointing out that even the most hard edged and villainous character is still a kid who lives with his mother, and that wit and sophistication isn't always brought in noirs, or a firm comedic relief. Though it was only one scene it really rounded out the reality of the plot. This was a good film, though it dragged more than I would like to admit. It is worth seeing, and noting, even if just for comparison to past noir films.
Super Reviewer
July 3, 2011
This is an extremely well written movie with an amazing Original Screenplay. It's tough, requiring a good amount of effort to keep up with, but completely worth it. Great acting by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, great directing, and incredible writing, all on a virtually non-existent budget makes this one of the better and most impressive movies I have seen.
Super Reviewer
December 28, 2011
An wildly inventive take on the classic hard-boiled detective story, this time in the contemporary high school scene, Brick is an extremely underrated gem with a strong lead performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt,but lots of props to debut writer/director Rian Johnson's slick style and smart dialogue between characters.
Super Reviewer
November 6, 2011
'Brick'. A teenage neo-noir detective flick that was possibly too quirky and clever for its own good at times.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
½ October 25, 2011
I WISH MY HIGHSCHOOL LIFE WAS A NOIR FILM! The story is chinatown for teens, with drugs, sex, and violence spread out. Gordon-Levitt and Rian Johnson create an atmosphere that separates the film from cliche high school flicks like Mean Girls and Elephant
Super Reviewer
½ September 28, 2011
These high school kids' slick lexicon makes the movie.
Super Reviewer
July 1, 2011
One of the best directorial debuts I've seen. This type of film is right up my alley, so I wasn't surprised that I loved it. Rian Johnson crafts a very complex high-school noir that features a terrific lead performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a script filled with excellent dialogue and characters.
Super Reviewer
June 12, 2011
Pin: "I'll have my boys check your tale, and seeing how it stretches we'll either rub or hire you. You'll know which by the end of the day tomorrow." Brick is a good noir film in the high school setting. It was very cool and even felt surreal at times. I really enjoyed the characters. Joseph Gordon-Levitt to me is one of the best actors going right now. In Brick he gives, if not his best, really close to his best performance. The characters were just really cool and entertaining in this movie. I especially liked The Pin and The Brain, but there wasn't one that I felt was out of place or a bad addition to the movie.
Super Reviewer
½ October 18, 2010
The filmmakers definitely saw Miller's Crossing. The climactic scenes of both movies even happen at the same time, 4:00 in the morning. Both films invent their own language and steal from classic noir. But whereas Miller's Crossing is about so much with a rich, poignant, understated subtext, Brick doesn't have the same depth. In fact, there was something oddly off about the film. For a while, I thought that it was a satire, exposing how serious teenagers think high school drama is, but the problem with this interpretation is that the matter of the film is indeed quite serious. There are murder mysteries and poisoned drugs and corrupt school officials. It creates an unbalanced film that doesn't fully hold together.
That said, JGL has officially risen in my estimation from the precocious little shit he once was to a versatile actor, capable of emotional depth and occasional sheer cool. Also to the film's benefit is the clever, though imitative, script with quick, original dialogue.
Super Reviewer
July 26, 2010
Great performances, but when a character has to spend the last 10 minutes telling you what happened, perhaps your script could use a bit more clarity.
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