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Film: The Bricklayer
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Nina Dobrev, Tim Blake Nelson, Ilfenesh Hadera, Clifton Collins Jr., Oliver Trevena, Orie Pfeffer 
Director: Renny Harlin
Rating: 2.5/5
Runtime: 110 min

In the traditions of ‘The Mechanic’ comes ‘The Bricklayer.’ Seems like Hollywood is running out of ideas for presenting highly skilled assassins and so is resorting to traditional job titles to lend them an edge. The Bricklayer, an espionage thriller, is based on a novel published in 2010 by Noah Boyd (real-life retired FBI agent Paul Lindsay). Director Harlin, better known for aces like Die Hard 2 (1990), Cliffhanger (1993), The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) and Deep Blue Sea (1999), is obviously on a downward spiral but this film is not as forgettable as it may seem at first.

Someone is blackmailing the CIA by assassinating foreign journalists and the agency is drawing flak for it. So, before the world unites against the U.S., the CIA hopes to get cracking by luring its most brilliant and rebellious operative Steve Vail (Aaron Eckhart) who happens to have a side job as a bricklayer, into confronting his checkered past while unraveling an international conspiracy.

Harlin’s use of color is distinctive and his unique framing elevates the rudimentary to something uncommon. The action involves brutal hand-to-hand combat, shoot-outs, impromptu car chases, nightclub violence, etc., and even though Vail gets pretty much pulverised himself, he manages to keep running.

The villain, Victor has a tragic past for which he blames the CIA – which is obvious. Victor and Vail have a past but the subsequent meetings between them generate violence more than emotion. Nina Dobrev, as Vail’s assigned partner/handler plays vulnerable and emotional, lending a semblance of reality to the unreal world of assassins and worldwide conspiracy theorising.  

The characters here are never deep but the action takes the center stage with busy cameras capturing every kinetic moment with a flourish. The film is set and shot in Greece by Finnish cinematographer Matti Eerikäinen, making ample use of natural light to accentuate moments of intense struggle and violence.

The film is nevertheless formulaic and doesn’t have many surprises but the flair for action is evident in Director Renny Harlin’s takes. The dialogue though is pithy. Flimsy and familiar though it may be, The Bricklayer musters up enough energy to entertain the action fans at the very least.



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