Drug Pulled From Under

The dead chick is Emily Kostich (Emilie De Ravin), a blonde who sports numerous bracelets in one wrist. Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the budding shamus, found her corpse near a dark-eyed tunnel shedding a brook of tears. Just two days earlier she has called him for help.

“I screwed up bad,” she cried. “Look, I did what she said with the brick. I didn’t know it was bad but the Pin’s on it now for poor Frisco, and they’re playing it all on me. You gotta help me, Brendan.”

Brick? The Pin? Poor Frisco? Brendan must decipher her words to out the killer. The boy can’t heel it. Emily was his beloved ex, dig? So Brendan enlists the help of Brain (Matt O’Leary), a Rubik’s Cube master who can dig dirt. The first step is to find out who she’s been eating with. And Brendan learns her lunch table sits a seedy lot of bad seeds: a drama queen (Meagan Goode), a composed socialite (Nora Zehetner), a jock (Brian J. White), a reef worm (Noah Segan), a muscle (Noah Fleiss), and a 26 year-old drug lord (Lukas Haas).

“Brick” provides one sneaky way to watch an old film, without actually watching one. The movie is a smoking film noir dope. But this old-school movie has high school as its burg. Not quite believable but vitally refreshing nonetheless. Unlike standard teen flicks, perkiness is piped down and sarcasm is sacked. The adolescent characters are all about grit, gravitas, and teen-talk jargon. Just about everyone has something to hide and it plays out like a poker of mind games. It’s crucial to keep the specs peeled.

As with all teen movies, this could all be rubbish but “Brick” is solid; it never crumbles. The cement that fortifies the movie is lead actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. In my opinion, Brendan is just one of those too-good-to-be-true characters. He’s a loner yet he’s able to infiltrate inner circles. He’s still a teen but he thinks and plans like a pro. And yet, Gordon-Levitt tackles the role credibly and the actor takes the powder hardly scratched. And it’s not just Gordon-Levitt that deserves notice. The movie is a fertile ground for precious weeds. I haven’t seen a youthful cast score like this since “Mean Creek.” Partial credit must go to the screenplay which fed very meaty roles to these actors.

The best thing about “Brick” is the construction of its story. It’s slow and steady, but it’s monumental. As far as mystery goes, this is skillfully first-rate. Filmmaker Rian Johnson slowly seduces you for a ride, casually shoots the breeze along winding roads, and then wham! – you ram into a wall of surprise. Here’s an intelligent movie that knows twists and turns are nothing if the rhythm and execution ain’t right. As a result, “Brick” hits like a motherfucker – it’s a triumphant knockout.

Grade: A

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lukas Haas, Nora Zehetner, Noah Segan, Noah Fleiss, Emilie de Ravin, and Meagan Good
Screenplay by
Rian Johnson
Directed by
Rian Johnson
Rated R for violent and drug content