BRICK cements Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s transition from kid comedy star to serious adult actor, though, for those with long memories, he was doing some excellent work as his generation’s designated “creepy kid” before signing up for the absurdist shenanigans of “Third Rock from the Sun.” When I spoke with Gordon-Levitt on February 10, 2005, the conversation turned from taking falls, to taking chances, to the pleasure to be taken in a job well done.
There is in seeing Rian Johnson’s neo-noir, BRICK, the sense that this is not just a startlingly original, wholly engrossing, and brilliantly plotted piece of work. There is the sense that it is nothing less than a flawless masterpiece made all the more remarkable for being Johnson’s maiden cinematic effort.
The idioms of the noir genre, damsels in distress, femmes fatale, mooks, wiseguys, cops, in the person of Vice-Principal Trueman (Richard Roundtree) willing to take shortcuts, and a hero with his own code of honor working against an underworld simmering just beneath the surface of its respectable environs, are all there. Johnson has grafted those idioms onto the specifics of high school, a decision that once done makes perfect sense. The emotional volatility of adolescence with its every crisis, small and large, taking on the urgency of a life-and-death situation provides the perfect milieu for what, with the addition of a drug ring, actually becomes literally life and death.
BRICK is a consummate feat of filmmaking. It’s a slinky and sophisticated thriller that pulls its audience along at a breathless pace without ever breaking a sweat.
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