Combustible Celluloid Review - The Bricklayer (2024), Matt Johnson, Hanna Weg, based on a novel by "Noah Boyd," a.k.a. Paul Lindsay, Renny Harlin, Aaron Eckhart, Nina Dobrev, Clifton Collins Jr., Tim Blake Nelson, Ilfenesh Hadera, Oliver Trevena, Akis Sakellariou, Ori Pfeffer
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With: Aaron Eckhart, Nina Dobrev, Clifton Collins Jr., Tim Blake Nelson, Ilfenesh Hadera, Oliver Trevena, Akis Sakellariou, Ori Pfeffer
Written by: Matt Johnson, Hanna Weg, based on a novel by "Noah Boyd," a.k.a. Paul Lindsay
Directed by: Renny Harlin
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, and language
Running Time: 110
Date: 01/05/2024
IMDB

The Bricklayer (2024)

1 Star (out of 4)

Mortar Skills

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Ranging from utterly generic to totally ridiculous, this action/thriller is like a second-rate version of a movie out of the 1990s, all bickering and one-liners and overly familiar plot turns.

Vail (Aaron Eckhart) is an ex-CIA spy now working as a bricklayer. A man called Radek (Clifton Collins Jr.) turns up in Greece, killing journalists and threatening to leak a top-secret file about the CIA's illicit dealings there. Radek is supposed to have been dead, dispatched by Vail.

So Vail's old boss (Tim Blake Nelson) calls him back and sends him into the field along with Kate (Nina Dobrev), who discovered Radek's whereabouts. Once in Greece, Vail finds an old contact (Oliver Trevena) and arranges a new cover story for them. But as Vail and Kate get deeper in, more and more violence breaks loose, and Radek is still as untouchable as ever.

If only The Bricklayer had even the slightest bit of awareness, or a more playful sense of humor, it could have worked, but Eckhart's steely turn in the title role makes it seem deadly serious. (Jason Statham might have been a good choice.)

The movie is directed by Renny Harlin, who had some hits back in the 1990s — Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger, etc. — and perhaps has tried ever since to copy his once-winning formula.

Everything in the plot is creaky and obvious, from the "Maguffin" (the secret file that could sink the entire U.S.) to the "guy who can get you anything" to the numerous, clunky fight scenes. A character even says that oft-heard line, "we had a deal!"

Perhaps most insulting is the pairing of Vail and Kate, he immediately viewing her as a weakling, unfit for service in the field, and she, perplexingly, eventually falling for him. Their predictable bickering centers on she wanting to do things by the book, and he doing this "his way"; he won't even let her drive a car.

Stupidest of all is the "bricklayer" idea. Vail insists on bringing his tools everywhere he goes, which allows him to stab two henchmen with a trowel, but also allows him to — no kidding — find evidence hidden in a brick fireplace. In the end, The Bricklayer is as dumb as a bag of hammers.

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