Johnson’s job is so polished, clean and smart, that it takes you a while to understand the ruthlessnees it speaks about.
Johnson is a fanatic for the action. Mind you, this is not the action that one often misunderstands it for. It doesn’t punch its way out. It doesn’t want to. Unlike Brendan played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the protagonist, who is drunk in his guilt and is ready to take any sort of suffering or punishment in this investigative journey that he calls, salvation. The writer and director Rian Johnson’s action is an action. Any form of activity, physical activity that normally is a heartbeat fastening experience for you in real life and is a “meh” sequence in a cinematic life.
So now, his priority is to make this crime drama world practical enough for you to believe the hype, agree to those standard rumors and carry the weight of the stakes it actually oozes. How do you pull this off? You would think that Johnson would direct his gun towards empathizing his characters. Instead, he defines the boundaries pretty close to reality. For a film that deals with murder, drug trafficking and Mafia-alike privatized gangs, Johnson doesn’t let go of tiny stuffs like bunking class, detention threat and rep sheet.
These actual issues that a studying teenager would and does worry about, then elevates the bold decisions of his on say.. chasing a criminal, fighting a bigger, stronger bully, deliberately walk in on a troubling scenario- the way he keeps insisting on fighting despite being brutally beaten, that arresting personality is brilliantly portrayed by Joseph- or the final test, taking someone’s life. That final part grounds the film more than anything considering how pure his revenge based emotions are, in the entire film, it is actually what drives him, more than even the curiosity factor. Brick is a hefty, heavy, bone-y pill to swallow, it is not for everyone, but then it is not made to.