Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”
California high schools have been the setting for everything from time-traveling stoner comedies to alien-invader horror flicks, so why not a hard-boiled detective noir? Brick takes the concept and sprints with it, delivering line after line of brilliantly punchy, rapid-patter dialogue that springs from pulp gumshoe novels of the 1930s. It's a ticklish joy for viewers who enjoy sharp wit and actors who can keep up with the pace, and almost qualifies the movie as a comedy despite the dark neo-noir at the core of its complex plot. There's a smooth, efficient style to the film's look as well, with a harrowing foot-chase that ends with an unexpected abruptness, and a sparseness of detail in the environments that suggests they're unrealistic archetypes as much as the characters are. A premise this challenging and prone to self-serious camp can only succeed with total commitment from the cast and writer-director Rian Johnson, and it's a qualified and highly entertaining success.