Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34

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Critic Reviews

  1. 91
    Manages to be visually arresting, packed with geeky allusions to everything from Raymond Chandler to "Blue Velvet."
  2. 91
    A Big Sleep with underage bozos, a Maltese Falcon where the stuff that dreams are made of rests in the lockers of a well-worn high school, Brick is a remarkable oddity, audacious and engaging.
  3. 90
    With brilliant dialogue out of the 1940s and graceful visuals that add depth to the dark comedy, Johnson debuts with a smart, self-assured feature that portrays adolescence like no other film has.
  4. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Brick is Bogart goes to high school, in other words, but that thumbnail description doesn't begin to convey the lasting pleasures of Rian Johnson's directorial debut.
  5. Johnson also grabs hold of a fundamental truth and seduces us with it: The schoolyard can be the noirest burg of all.
  6. It's reminiscent of David Lynch, who is a master at mixing the ghastly and the risible. Brick would be better with a bit more Lynch in its soul, but Johnson is his own man, and I look forward to what he comes up with next.
  7. 80
    All in all, this twerpy little movie is one of the most entertaining pictures to be released so far this year.
  8. The mean streets don't get any nastier than the high school parking lots in this cool-crafted mystery.
  9. Johnson has taken a well-worn, much-revised genre, adapted to what's become a clichéd setting and transcended both in the process.
  10. 80
    Brick doesn't work 100 percent of the time, but it's a striking achievement, beautifully shot, often hilarious and occasionally moving.
  11. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    With a superb lead turn by rising star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rian Johnson’s debut is a smart, original neo-noir that works as an ingenious mindgame as well as a slick Hollywood calling card.
  12. 75
    "Sensational" is the word for Joseph Gordon-Levitt (equally striking in Mysterious Skin), who stars as Brendan, the teen outsider who becomes a budding Bogart.
  13. 75
    It's Gordon-Levitt's pitch-perfect work that makes Brick a hardboiled treat.
  14. First-time writer-director Rian Johnson's gimmick is that his SoCal teens talk like film-noir yeggs and dames, slinging hard-boiled shade and spitting out terse, rat-a-tat dialogue peppered with slang that was yesterday's news 40 years before they were born. But the result is, against all odds, marvelously entertaining.
  15. Reviewed by: Ethan Alter
    It takes a good fifteen minutes to fully adjust to the screenplay's rhythms, but once you do, the dialogue is a lot of fun to listen to.
  16. 75
    This movie leaves me looking forward to the director's next film; we can say of Rian Johnson, as somebody once said about a dame named Brigid O'Shaughnessy, "You're good. You're very good."
  17. The concept is clever and Johnson's brisk editing, dynamic camerawork and snazzy transitions has fun with it all. It makes for an inspired time-warped teenage film noir.
  18. A weird and near-perfect polyglot of indie art film and noir mystery.
  19. 75
    Brick is kinda brilliant and kinda demented, and you love it for the former far more than you hold the latter against it.
  20. Mainly, it's a clever gimmick, cleverly wrought, offering further evidence that you can dress up the student body in all manner of garb for all types of genres.
  21. Writer-director Rian Johnson gives the usual teen angst an entertaining kick. But the joke wears off, and what's left is as convoluted and monotonous as any conventional hard-boiled mystery.
  22. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    The story, while derivative, isn't half bad, and the picture gains in finesse and confidence to the point where Johnson more or less pulls off his peril-fraught exercise.
  23. 70
    It's worth seeing for the tightly coiled plot, well-realized characters, and novel take on rapacious teen culture.
  24. The hair may thin considerably under Brick's hat after a while, and Hammett redone remains Hammett half done, but while the plates are in the air, it's a spectacle of nerve.
  25. 70
    Johnson pulls us into his world and keeps things oddly plausible, despite the intense stylization
  26. Like a good campfire storyteller, writer-director Rian Johnson knows how to fuse the amusing and the edgy. And, in Brendan, he has created an endearing character.
  27. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    Like the best noirs, Brick is a triumph of attitude, and there's no arguing that its brand of deadpan cool is precisely unique.
  28. Gordon-Levitt already proved in last year's "Mysterious Skin" his captivating command as a dramatic actor; with Brick he further demonstrates his remarkable dexterity and range.
  29. Johnson combines the elements of classic 1940s film noir and "Rebel Without a Cause"-style teen angst in a movie that is as phony as it is ambitious. It's an A+ film school exercise with zero emotional or social impact.
  30. 63
    This is neither the noir world of old '40s movies, of which he's clearly fond, nor something new and original enough to fit the concept. Instead, it feels like a blueprint for someone else to figure out.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 168 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 46 out of 65
  2. Negative: 14 out of 65
  1. AndyM.
    Jun 9, 2008
    This movie is best described as a bunch of 25 year-olds, acting like 17 year-olds, acting like 35 year-olds. It's ridiculous. This This movie is best described as a bunch of 25 year-olds, acting like 17 year-olds, acting like 35 year-olds. It's ridiculous. This isn't high school, and it never will be. It tries to be original by placing a 50-years-late, washed-up detective genre into a high school setting, and it comes off as plain absurd. As the Wall Street Journal puts it, "It's original, yet it's not". No high school is filled with smooth talking, drug-running teenagers, who spit 1940's lingo like it's the normal thing to do. If you like detective stories and you just HAVE to have a new angle, despite the complete lack of believability, then this is for you. The movie isn't a bad one, don't get me wrong. The writing and the confined presentation just prevents it from being the amazing movie it desperately wants to be. And I mean desperately. Full Review »
  2. MichaelM.
    May 21, 2006
    This film is what you would get if you gave a bunch of talented 10th grade students unlimited access to the school's audio visual This film is what you would get if you gave a bunch of talented 10th grade students unlimited access to the school's audio visual department. But unfortunately, even the most talented 10th graders can't make a watchable commercial film, except maybe a film made for other 10th graders who happen to go to the same school. It seemed that the screenwriter's goal was to pack the dialogue full of as much cool-sounding slang as he could, whether it got in the way of writing a good script or not. This drivel was muttered nearly unintelligably by all the "actors" in this children-trying-to-act-like-grownups mess. How anyone could rate this over a zero is a total mystery to me--I assume it was a gift, so as not to discourage the budding young talent. I had exactly the same feeling about this film as I did about Dogville, except I felt much worse about the latter, because it was made by adults who had no excuse. Come to think of it, if you loved Dogville, you will probably love this film.--please rush out and buy a ticket so I won't feel so bad about wasting my own money. Full Review »
  3. Jul 23, 2016
    Brick is a really good movie with a heavy focus on the writing and characters rather than the action and effects. It continually gets more andBrick is a really good movie with a heavy focus on the writing and characters rather than the action and effects. It continually gets more and more interesting as the movie goes on and thats all thanks to Johnson's great writing. The performances are also really great as well. Definitely an awesome movie to watch. Full Review »