The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained.
The Film: Brick (2005)
The Plot: When his ex-girlfriend goes missing, teenage Brendan dives into the seedy underworld of High School, digging his way through political allegiances and a youthful criminal enterprise in this seedy neo-noir tale.
The Review: Blending genres, or straight up moving a classical one into a new setting, can be risky business. Some seem made for each other – think of Westerns in Space. It just works. The similar expanses of nothingness, the lack of the law, the reliance on a sidearm.
One blend that might not come to mind is detective noir and High School. Sure, noir has been melded into the fold before, see The Last Boy Scout or Blade Runner, but when you make the setting a high school full of teenagers, you’ve got a sticky balancing situation that could easily drift into absurdity.
Writer/Director Rian Johnson found the balance point by ignoring, or replacing, a lot of the tropes of the high school movie. While the setting is decidedly teenagers in a school, virtually every other aspect of the movie is straight detective noir, delivered hard up and serious. You’ll laugh, but never because it’s goofy or hunting for the obvious joke.
Brick is as serious as The Maltese Falcon and it never lowers its own standards. Led in the acting department by the always stellar Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the population of youthful actors handle the heavy material in stride, never getting bogged down and always managing to maintain the same mood – no one goes too far off into caricature land, while no one drifts into High School Musical territory.
Smartly written, well acted, and effectively shot, Brick was a surprise to me, an amazingly well crafted film from start to finish. Once started, it was impossible to turn away from.
But why spend 110 minutes watching this film when you only have 332,639 minutes left to live?
Because it’s just that damned good and maybe you haven’t seen it yet. Brick never got the notice it deserved and let’s not forget it as we await our fiery destruction at the claws of an angry god.
Not many films can take two seemingly disparate ideas and blend them together this well. You owe it to yourself to experience this film before you erupt in flames and die.