Brick (2006)



Critic Consensus: This entertaining homage to noirs past has been slickly and compellingly updated to a contemporary high school setting.

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"Brick," while taking its cues and its verbal style from the novels of Dashiell Hammett, also honors the rich cinematic tradition of the hard-boiled noir mystery, here wittily and bracingly immersed in fresh territory - a modern-day Southern California neighborhood and high school. There, student Brendan Frye's piercing intelligence spares no one. Brendan is not afraid to back up his words with actions, and knows all the angles; yet he prefers to stay an outsider, and does - until the day that his ex-girlfriend, Emily reaches out to him unexpectedly and then vanishes. Brendan's feelings for her still run deep; so much so, that he becomes consumed with finding his troubled inamorata. To find her, Brendan enlists the aid of his only true peer, The Brain, while keeping the assistant vice principal only occasionally informed of what quickly becomes a dangerous investigation. Brendan's single-minded unearthing of students' secrets thrusts him headlong into the colliding social orbits of rich-girl sophisticate Laura, intimidating Tugger, substance-abusing Dode, seductive Kara, jock Brad and - most ominously - non-student The Pin. It is only by gaining acceptance into The Pin's closely guarded inner circle of crime and punishment that Brendan will be able to uncover hard truths about himself, Emily and the suspects that he is getting closer to.
R (for violent and drug content)
Action & Adventure , Drama , Horror , Mystery & Suspense
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Joseph Gordon-Levitt
as Brendan Frye
Lukas Haas
as The Pin
Nora Zehetner
as Laura Dannon
Noah Segan
as Dode
Noah Fleiss
as Tugger
Emilie De Ravin
as Emily Kostach
Matt O'Leary
as The Brain
Richard Roundtree
as Assistant VP Gary Trueman
Brian J. White
as Brad Bramish
Lucas Babin
as Big Stoner
Reedy Gibbs
as Pin's Mom
Tracy Wilcoxen
as Straggler
Ari Velkom
as Tangels
Cody Lightning
as The Lug
McJoel Hamilton
as The Pin's Driver
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Critic Reviews for Brick

All Critics (138) | Top Critics (37)

The self-consciously mannered rat-a-tat-tat dialogue also mines a neat overlap between teen slang and noir patois, both of which can be indecipherable to non-initiates.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Like the best noirs, Brick is a triumph of attitude, and there's no arguing that its brand of deadpan cool is precisely unique.

Full Review… | May 12, 2006
Top Critic

It's great to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Mysterious Skin) in the juicy role of a high-school gumshoe on the trail of his estranged girlfriend's killers.

Full Review… | May 11, 2006
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

Alas, Brick, from writer-director Rian Johnson, isn't as clever as its conceit.

May 5, 2006
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Brick is smart -- perhaps too smart for its own good at times. But in the end, its affectations add up to entertainment.

Full Review… | April 28, 2006
Detroit News
Top Critic

Although Brick can be a bit thick, you have to admire the effort.

April 20, 2006
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Brick

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!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

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.

Alice Shen
Alice Shen

Super Reviewer


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.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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