‘The Bricklayer’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Did Steve Vail Catch Radek?

The Bricklayer, by director Renny Harlin, is better than your average espionage action thriller but just doesn’t have any real novelty to jump from that bar. It’s good that it has a great cast. Aaron Eckhart, Nina Dobrev, and Tim Blake Nelson in one film feels like it must be a heavy drama, but the plot will give you a feeling that there are a lot of stock characters in the film, tailor-made for action thrillers. The main role, which I refer to as the Bruce Willis role—a hard-boiled, old-school yet slick agent—goes to Aaron Eckhart, who does well with the bricklaying tools to kill people, as he knows how to give that steely, ice-cold look just a bit off the camera. Nina Dobrev gets a chance to essay the role of an agent, and she seems to have been cast against type, and does a good job as well. Who is wasted here is Nelson, who is such a great performer but isn’t given a role that matches his caliber.

Spoilers Ahead


Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

If one thing has to be praised about the film, it is that it criticizes American intelligence agencies quite vehemently. Based on the novel of the same name by Noah Boyd, the plot follows a man named Steve Vail, a bricklayer who once worked for the CIA. The story of the film begins by introducing us to the antagonist of the movie, Victor Radek, who seems to be on a killing spree in Greece, claiming the lives of journalists who were extremely critical of the CIA’s activities in other countries. This was problematic for the CIA, as the optics made it look like the CIA was sending agents, breaching international laws, and getting journalists assassinated. Victor Radek was a covert CIA operator in Greece who was supposed to have died 18 months ago, but after he miraculously resurfaced, CIA operative O’Malley contacts Steve Vail, who was Radek’s handler in Greece, to clean up the mess he had created.


How Did Kate Find Out About Radek?

The CIA operatives are smart, but Radek has fooled them all. He had hidden himself so brilliantly that even though he had killed Greta Becker, he was nowhere to be seen in the CCTV footage available near the hotel. Kate Bannon, working under O’Malley, was his best employee, who scanned all the footage again, thinking she would catch what the others had missed. In the footage of the railway station, she noticed a man who was walking behind a group of friends who were hiding the man’s full view. Kate ran a facial recognition, not to search for Radek, but the group of kids who had clicked a selfie at the exact moment the hooded man had passed them by. She felt that if the group had posted that photo on social media, she might get a glimpse of the man, and this little eye for detail helped her get the certainty that Radek was alive. A man named Popov’s photo was found near Greta’s corpse. Popov was a Russian mobster, and the job of neutralizing him was given to Radek. Leaving his photo near Greta’s body was some sort of a message, and it was clear that Radek was alive and had killed Greta.


Why Was Vail Ordered To Neutralize Radek?

Radek was once a negotiator between the Greek and the Russian mafias. He had joined the CIA because he wanted a safe haven for himself and his family in America. But he had to put in the time working as the agency’s covert operator. They had given him the task of killing Popov, but after he did so, his cover was blown. Radek believed it was the agency itself that blew his cover, as he had refused to assassinate a Greek politician. Vail was Radek’s handler, and he couldn’t save Radek’s family from getting slaughtered by the Russians. Radek went berserk and started to authorize the kills himself, basically going on a killing spree. Vail was given orders to stop the mayhem before it started a diplomatic problem between Russia and the USA. Vail, when asked by Kate about Radek’s death, told her that he was certain that he had killed Radek. The truth was that he had taken a liking to Radek and thought that he deserved to live. Hence, Vail had let Radek go, but now he was back with some doomsday intel to poke the CIA, putting them under international pressure by killing Greta Becker. Radek started to blackmail the CIA for a billion dollars, threatening to reveal the people they had on their ‘list,’ one that contained the names of all the world leaders they were planning to assassinate.


How Did Vail Catch Radek?

Vail was quite well-versed in his knowledge about Greece’s criminal underworld, but he knew that Radek was familiar with them as well. Vail was correct to assume that a local thug named Sten might be helping Radek accomplish his missions. Through him, he figured that Radek’s next victim could be the journalist named Alekos Melas, who was criticizing America’s policy regarding its intelligence activities in foreign countries. The Greek Foreign Minister, Kostas Leontaris, had also gotten into the act of warning America if the covert activities didn’t stop. Vail figured Melas was going to be Radek’s next victim, and he couldn’t save his life. When Radek left Cuban Minister Del Gato’s photo near Melas’ body, it was clear he knew about the ‘list’ because Del Gato was alive but on the list. Vail thought O’Malley might be the one leaking the intel to the ‘dead’ Radek to cover his tracks, meanwhile sending Kate and Vail on a wild goose chase.

Nobody in the agency knew that Radek was alive except O’Malley, Kate, and Vail. Since Vail did not trust anyone, he contacted his old flame, Tye, who was working as a CIA operative in Greece. Meanwhile, Kate tried to figure out who Radek wanted the money for, as it didn’t feel like he was doing all the hits for it. He had enough reasons to punish the CIA. Radek asked Kate to make the drop—a transfer of a billion dollars into her Bitcoin wallet. Vail was right behind, and Radek told him that he wasn’t going to stop until he created the ultimate storm. The politician he was asked to assassinate was Greek Foreign Minister Kostas. Radek had paid a huge price for refusing the ‘promotion’, a euphemism for getting clearance for assassinating politicians instead of thugs, but now he wanted to create a war by revealing the list.

During The Bricklayer‘s ending, Vail killed Radek before he could kill Kostas, but the money was nowhere to be found. Kate suspected that O’Malley had gotten the billion dollars out of the mission, but the truth was that the money was with Tye. Vail figured it out when he found the music record that Radek had once given him. Tye never spoke about Radek being alive, but surely she knew he was alive long before he killed Greta Becker. It was Tye who was leaking the list to Radek. They had become an item after Vail left Greece. Tye must have felt pity for Radek and also saw a chance to get the money from the agency for all the years of service and unspeakable things done to people in the name of patriotism. Tye called her men to kill Vail, but thanks to Kate, who overcame her freeze response in the face of danger and shot Tye. Vail survived. Kate was offered a ‘promotion’ at the agency, but she refused. She couldn’t after knowing what they had done to Radek. She took the risk of facing the agency’s wrath and went her own way—the same as Vail, who resumed his day job as a bricklayer.


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Ayush Awasthi
Ayush Awasthi
Ayush is a perpetual dreamer, constantly dreaming of perfect cinematic shots and hoping he can create one of his own someday.

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