The Bricklayer

The Bricklayer
The Bricklayer
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Noah Boyd is the pen name of former FBI agent and Vietnam War veteran Paul Lindsay who wants to employ his expertise in espionage and war tactics in writing a series of investigative novels. Leukaemia claimed Lindsay’s life before he could publish any more books after the second volume.

It has been in a development process since 2011 as Gerard Butler’s vehicle. Aaron Eckhart, however, replaces him as Jack Reacher type hero Steve Vail in “The Bricklayer” which is obviously different eyeing locations likely to be used by it as well as other resources provided for by its multinational funding.

“The Bricklayer” this fun thriller, set mostly in Greece, joins Renny Harlin’s Bodies at Rest and Skiptrace among better recent joints from the globe-trotting director of Chinese action movies. Nonetheless, it falls short of being a home run since convoluted plotlines and overly sensational action scenes actually make the story more cluttered than brilliant or even plausible.

Nobody knows whether another Vail adventure will follow (possibly based on Agent X, Lindsay’s last book). There are many things that can be said about this energetic bullet-stormed adventure flick that may be quickly forgotten but never leaves anyone watching for 110 minutes uninterested. US theaters will start screening Vertical on January 5th while it will also be available on demand platforms. 

In an opening scene taking place inside a Greek hotel room journalist Veronica Ferres (an “outspoken critic of U.S. intelligence activities abroad”) is handed evidence that would disgrace America by an unidentified visitor. She does not know what to do with herself now that she realizes he came here to kill her too – yet another high profile whistleblower who was killed just like others assumed to have been murdered by CIA because they were against its activities. Besides this mysterious individual intends to create public uproar so that he can squeeze out huge sums of money from U.S government due to some personal grievances with the state.

The CIA finally identifies this stranger as Victor Radek (Clifton Collins Jr.), once an associate of the agency who was believed to be dead, and served as a go-between for the Greek and Russian mafias. He may seem elusive but in fact, he is very much alive. In order to locate him, O’Malley (Tim Blake Nelson), a CIA boss, starts searching for Vail’s old friend from former times while now he does something that is not even close to what they did before – he works as a bricklayer in Philadelphia after hard times during his previous occupation and break up with the secret service. However, when three assassins strike at him on a construction site early in the movie forcing him to flee for his life, Vail changes his mind about working together.

O’Malley tries to tame this unruly renegade by partnering him with a conventional agent, Kate Bannon (Nina Dobrev). He’s the coolest dude; she’s the most straight up person saying that “I don’t listen to music.” Yet his “supervisor” is being ignored and overrulled even before he arrives in Thessalonica. He goes through his own local vehicle/weaponry “outfitter” (Oliver Trevena), shakes down an ex small-time crook turned into a big time one (Ori Pfeffer) for information and has a more complicated reunion with another CIA operative who he was romantically involved (Tye played by Ilfenesh Hadera). Meanwhile, Victor keeps raining havoc which causes angry anti-U.S. protests.

The numerous treachery on almost all sides, both present and past are not exactly easy to follow–the progress is too hectic for these twists to be well-drawn. The competent actors have no room whatsoever in which they can bring out real characters. Eckhart heroically endures a lot of physical pain while doing that whisper-croak thing that has become hackneyed banality ever since Harry Callahan first graced our screens. Dobrev plays the shrewish female professional whose old-fashionedness does her in at every turn as we see Vail smirk at her again and again.

Nelson’s often an asset; but, here he is wasted playing the disapproving bureaucrat part. Collins also fails to find interest in a more dramatic figure; thus ill-advisedly dressing Radek like a young Joel Grey about to break into Bob Fosse has been chosen – what an obvious image for someone who must be unseen! Though constricted by writing, international supporting cast is strong enough.

But none of this matters too much so long as “The Bricklayer” is hurtling forward with no lack of chases, gunplay and explosions. Harlin still seems to be a nimble and confident mainstream entertainer as he was in Hollywood days, risking silliness on occasion but never boring. The widescreen cinematography by Matti Eerikainen is always beautiful in different well-picked or well-dressed locations, and all other technicians’ craftmanship is top-notch.

There might not be much here to make anyone rush out to embrace another Steve Vail adventure – his basic genre components are generic enough to mimic MacGruber than 007. However, while watching though, Harlin and Co provide good fun.

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