Somewhere, a film school is missing the kid
who sits alone in the first row and wears the turtleneck. Holy
shit, has there ever been as academic and masturbatory a movie
that escaped from a university's film festival?
What a boring, pretentious and pointless hunk of contrived crap.
The entire time I watched this tough-talking, feeble stab at
noir set on a high-school campus I kept thinking of Bugsy
Malone, a crappy 70s gangster movie for kids starring only
kids and with pie fights where the gunfire would be. Well, the
time I wasn't wishing I were at home in bed, that is. Bugsy
was all cutesy and creepy like a beauty pageant for toddlers.
Brick is fake and forced, like a twelve-year-old strutting
through the Country Buffet in his brand new leather jacket.
On a San Clemente high school campus, a loner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
gets a cryptic message from an ex-girlfriend and pieces together
a mystery involving bands of drug-dealing thugs who hide in
dank basements, molls in old Thunderbird convertibles, and labyrinthine
plot twists about a tainted "brick" of heroin, backstabbing
and a lousy sidekick who just happens to know any necessary
information to push the plot.
What the movie is missing is any reason for the audience to
give a shit. I mean, other than if you're a film school student
who marvels at dazzling exercises in jerking off, or you're
just an average joe who likes the same shit. And I'm not talking
about dazzling clitoris diddling like you get in Candy Bottoms'
brilliant XXX classicMe Loves Me 36, even if she doesn't
look like she loves herself in much of it. Especially the parts
when she cries.
The movie kicks off with Gordon-Levitt acting too fucking cool
for school. He has no backstory and he shows no emotion. The
mystery he is tangled in is too abstract to give a shit about
and the fact that Gordon-Levitt is so flat only inspires you
not to dig deep. It's fancy and convoluted for sure, but if
twists and turns were enough then I could get people to pay
ten bucks to look at my lower intestine. I doubt writer-director
Rian Johnson bothered thinking about whether we'd give a shit.
He was too damn busy dazzling himself with all the tricks.
Brick also struts around like it's hot shit, completely
oblivious that it's not the first leather jacket in the Country
Buffet, or that the kid underneath ain't very mature. Like nobody
ever thought of this crap before. There is a bad noir with self-conscious
tough talk strapped to synthetic teen scenario. Neither the
noir nor the drama are clever; it's just all that duct tape
holding them together makes you think you're seeing something
new. Sort of like a jackalope.
Another reason this movie sucks major ass is how inconsistent
it is. It wants to be cool and noir, but a billion elements
of it are none of that. Instead, they are just some undisciplined
hack's idea of cool. Take, for example, the cool retro cars
that no high school kid will ever have, or the hideous retro
clothes that high school kids never wear. At least, none who
aren't screaming for attention. Worse is that these fucking
brats are supposedly in high school, and the setting is largely
the campus, yet they don't act, speak or respond like high schoolers.
Instead, they chirp barely comprehensible tough talk of the
bad, flashy moviemaker. The action is driven by some invisible
hand and never by any logical reaction to an incident.
What would have made a way better movie is taking a noir plot
and play it out with typical lazy, shy teens with no self-confidence
and limited vocabularies. The kids would have been more sympathetic
and less like some freakish test-tube mutation. That might have
hidden their lousy acting too.
One Finger for Brick. Pushing a twenty-pound
baby out of a 90-pound women would be less labored and painful.
Maybe someday Rian Johnson will make a good movie, but it won't
be until he's more interested in entertaining his audience than
impressing his film school pals.