Is Brick (2005) movie worth watching in 2022? Brick Movie Review
Updated: Apr 2, 2022
I love a good “whodunit” based murder mystery movie, and if it is set in high school or college then count me in. The movie Brick which is Rian Johnson’s directorial debut film, exactly does that – it combines two of my favourite things, neo-noir murder mystery and a high school setting. So, what could go wrong, right?
Brick looks like a solid movie on the paper, the premise sounds cool, the actors are phenomenal, (I mean it has actors like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Ravin and Lukas Haas) and the movie is directed by Rian Johnson who is known for directing some excellent films like Knives Out, Looper and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But still I don't know why but I kind of have mixed feeling about this movie. Some things worked really well in this movie while others bothered me a bit.
On one hand, I really liked the interconnectedness of the plot, how every elements and plot points connect to the particular ending but on the other hand the complexity of dialogues fell through the roof for me. So, through this article, I'll try to convey this ambiguity of mine, so that you can decide whether or not Brick is worth watching?
What is Brick (2005) movie about?
Brick is a neo-noir “whodunit” mystery movie set in high school which focuses on Brendan who after getting a phone call from his terrified ex-girlfriend discovers her dead body at an underground drain tunnel. He still has feeling for her and tries to solve this murder mystery on his own without the interference of the cops. So he hides her body, and now with the help of his friend, Brain, he has to befriend the drug lord of the city, The Pin, and gain acceptance into his inner circle to learn more about Emily.
After this movie, Rian Johnson went on to make some rather great movies such as Knives Out and Looper, and you can clearly see his evolution as a director. Considering Johnson's directorial filmography, Brick is certainly not one of his bests, but that doesn't make this movie unappealing. Enjoying a movie is a very subjective thing and can vary between individuals but I'll try to explain my experience with Brick through various points.
The Dialogues of Brick
Rian was inspired from the Novels of Dashiell Hammett, which included some heavy detective mystery in them. He read and studied the novels, especially the words, slangs and language used by drug communities. This was an excellent thing to do but the implementation of these in the script didn't really work out from me. The dialogues were confusing and I had to rewind the movie a lot. Despite clocking at just 110 minutes (1 hour 50 minutes), it took me nearly 2 and half hours to complete it. I also had to open the script of the movie, so that I could reread and understand certain lines.
I mean I've watched many movies with dialogues I couldn't understand, like Scottish movies, their English is very different than what are we used to but still I got the crux of the story but here, in Brick it was a bit difficult for me. I completely understand that Rian wanted to do something out of the box for his directorial debut, so he chose to alter the dialogues but when we as audience have a hard time understanding them, it creates a little bit of problem then.
But this dialogue thing is not all bad, it in fact increases the rewatchability. You might have to watch this movie a second time to get and understand every tiny aspect of the script clearly. Some dialogues are fortunately a little quotable and are written very well like this one here:
"Throw one at me if you want, hash head. I've got all five senses and I slept last night, that puts me six up on the lot of you."
So yeah, this complexity in dialogues can be good for all the dialogues fan, who love to quote lines from their favorite movies but for others, this thing can be a bit problematic.
Despite its lower budget, the movie consists of some stellar cast and most of the actors do a tremendous job. Joseph Gordon-Levitt shines in every scene he is in. He totally sells the feelings, emotions and complexity of his character Brendan. Brendan is kind of a badass, who is not that muscular but still doesn't step away from a little action and Joseph portrayed the role of this high school student at its best.
Nora Zehetner as Laura is just stunningly amazing. She looks absolutely breathtaking in the scene, where her character, Laura, plays piano and recites “The sun whose rays are all ablaze”. Laura is a complex sophisticated rich girl and it seemed like Zehetner really understood the traits of the character because at no point it seemed like her performance was lacking.
Every other character, for instance, Luka Hass as The Pin, Noah Fleiss as Tug, Noah Segan as Dode and Matt O’Leary as Brain, are as good as they can be. Emilie de Ravin, though had a short role as Emily, perfectly depicted her character as a drug addict.
Direction, Screenplay and Editing
Despite this being Rian Johnson’s first movie, he did a good enough job. He does his best in setting up the environment, you’ll really start to feel this whole neo-noir vibe. Also, the very first scene where Brendan discovers Emily’s body and the way camera first focuses on him and then on the body establishes the fact that the makers didn’t compromise on direction and screenplay despite having a low budget. Even the foot chase sequence and its choreography in this movie is so well done. The camera in this chase sequence was surprisingly not shaky and the scene showcased a clear view of our characters. So, cinematography is applaudable in this movie.
But due to the budget limitations, the movie doesn't look much visually stunning. Mind you, the shots are beautiful, the camera angles are great, but by looking at these scenes, you can clearly notice it's low budgetness.
Even the colour grading in Brick is just natural. In most of the movies, the editor enhances colour of the frames, the grass will look more green, the sky will look more blue and so on, but here they all look a bit dull and natural. And as I said earlier, this is not a problem and in fact works in favour of this movie. These all things combined give this movie kind of an old style neo noir vibe. But for people who drool over the movies with beautiful visuals, Brick won't appeal to them in this department.
Coming to the pace of the movie, it is alright too. There are some scenes where the movie starts to lose its grip and the complex dialogues certainly do not help in this case. There were even times when I had to pause the movie, drink water and read its Wikipedia page just to recall the plot of the movie till that very moment. But after these slow scenes, the movie indeed picks up and tries to balance it with plenty of twists and turns.
Writing of Brick
And at last, I would like to talk about writing and storytelling aspect of Brick as this is one of the strongest points of this movie. The script by Rian Johnson is compelling enough to get your interest but as I mentioned earlier, contains dialogue which at first viewing might not get into your head. Rian tries to bind plot points and connect them all to the ending, and that works profoundly.
Looking and trying to understand the plot, one can easily validate that there’s a good amount of research involved in the script. Every character in the movie is witty and has its own motive. The ending does manage to deliver surprise but if you’re an eagle-eyed viewer, you can already see it coming.
The entire movie mostly focuses on Emily's murder. Despite based on the setting of high school, we neither see the students attending classes nor their parents. In one scene, Brendan does mention his mom but we don’t get to see her and it’s same with all the characters. But that's not a problem, this works very well with the environment of the movie and also due to budget constraints, it must have been difficult for the makers to get more people.
Conclusion of this Brick movie review
So, Brick is a movie with it's own ups and downs. A movie helmed as neo-noir murder mystery movie, it indeed manages to develop an intriguing mystery but that doesn't come without the cost of its dialogues. The dialogue are fast and complex which will confuse the casual viewers. The script is well-written with each piece placed and handled carefully. The movies does lose its pace in between but after few scenes it manages to balance it up.
If you're a fan of neo-noir cinema or you're a person who just love quoting dialogues of a film and doesn't mind some complicated dialogues, then this movie is for you. It's a good homage to those old detective neo-noir movies and should satisfy the fans of the genre.
Some Extra Thoughts
The reason I mentioned earlier that I've mixed feelings about Brick (movie) despite praising it's direction, writing and storytelling is because I believe that whether we enjoy a particular movie or not depends upon our psychology, mood and thought process at the time of watching it.
Personally I love those kind of movies which can make me feel some kind of emotions. If a movie could make me feel thrills, or laugh, or rush after those intense action sequence, or bind me through suspense, that movie is already good for me. And that's what was missing from Brick. After finishing the movie, I just felt blank. Yes, it had some good plot but nothing managed to provide me with that much required excitement. The same may or may not happen to you but if after reading this review, there's even a small part of you that wants to watch this movie then, give it a try and make your own opinion.
Where can you watch Brick Movie online?
There are many ways to watch Brick, but unfortunately it isn't available on streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.
The most convenient way can be to buy or rent Brick through Amazon. Click on the button below, to get to the official page of Brick on Amazon.
You can check this page of JustWatch website for more information on streaming the Brick Movie.