|05 january 2024
Renny Harlin, a veteran director known for his action films (Die Hard2 (1990), Cliffhanger (1993), The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), 12 rounds (2009)), takes the helm of The Bricklayer, delivering an espionage thriller that, while it doesn't break new ground narratively, excels in its commitment to thrilling action sequences and a visual style that's both vibrant and captivating. A film that testifies to his undeniable expertise in action scenes, this seasoned director would be an excellent choice to return to the forefront of Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking.
The film introduces us to Steve Vail (Aaron Eckhart), a former CIA special agent who leads a double life as a construction worker, earning him the nickname Bricklayer. The story begins when a series of murders of journalists exposes a conspiracy to frame the CIA. Reluctantly thrust back into the world of espionage, Vail becomes the central figure in solving this mystery.
One of the film's strengths lies in Renny Harlin's distinctive visual style. The color palette, ranging from mustard to teal, adds a distinct and recognizable aesthetic to the film. Renny Harlin's confident framing and use of color elevate The Bricklayer beyond the standard action thriller, offering audiences a visual feast.
The action sequences, which characterize Renny Harlin's prowess, are relentless and well-choreographed. A fight on a rooftop in the rain and a scene in a nightclub where dancers continue their choreography amidst the chaos testify to Renny Harlin's ability to create visceral, captivating scenes. The director's acute sense of timing and rhythm enables the film to maintain a steady pace, rarely letting the audience catch its breath.
Aaron Eckhart, as Steve Vail, gives the character a gruff, world-weary air. Although his performance isn't the most nuanced, Eckhart's physicality and commitment to the role contribute to the film's overall authenticity. Nina Dobrev, as rookie agent Kate, injects a refreshing sense of realism into the story, counterbalancing Vail's seasoned personality.
The film's main antagonist, Victor Radek (Clifton Collins Jr.), may lack subtlety in his development, but the story makes up for it with a confident and engaging color palette, framing choices and an overall sense of fun that permeates the production. The chemistry between the characters, particularly the dynamic between Vail and Kate, adds layers of depth to the otherwise familiar spy thriller dynamic.
Although the plot adheres closely to spy thriller conventions, The Bricklayer stands out for its unequivocal commitment to action and style. Renny Harlin's film isn't a groundbreaker in the genre, but it succeeds in offering an entertaining and visually captivating experience for fans of high-octane spy thrillers. We would have loved to have seen this film on the big screen of a movie theater rather than on our TV.
The Bricklayer may not redefine the genre, but it is a testament to Renny Harlin's ability to deliver gripping action and visually arresting sequences. For viewers looking for a thrilling escapade filled with intense combat, dynamic visuals and a touch of espionage intrigue, The Bricklayer offers a memorable cinematic journey.
Directed by Renny Harlin
Screenplay by Hanna Weg, Matt Johnson
Based on The Bricklayer by Paul Lindsay
Produced by Jeffrey Greenstein, Yariv Lerner, Jonathan Yunger, Heidi Jo Markel, Robert Van Norden
Starring Aaron Eckhart, Nina Dobrev, Tim Blake Nelson, Ilfenesh Hadera, Clifton Collins Jr.
Cinematography : Matti Eerikäinen
Edited by Iain Erskine
Music by Walter Mair
Production companies : Millennium Media, Eclectic Pictures
Distributed by Vertical Entertainment (United States)
Release date : January 5, 2024 (United States)
Running time : 110 minutes
Viewed January 10, 2024 on VOD