Mr. Brooks (2007)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Genres: Police Detective Film, Psychological Thriller, Thriller
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Bruce A. Evans Bruce A. Evans
Kevin Costner Kevin Costner
Demi Moore Demi Moore
Dane Cook Dane Cook
William Hurt William Hurt
Marg Helgenberger Marg Helgenberger

6.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: June 04, 2007
The new thriller "Mr. Brooks" opens with the title card - "The hunger has returned to Mr. Brooks' brain", with an eerie industrial synth background loop that lets you know immediately that this will not be your typical Kevin Costner film. In fact, Costner has been fighting desperately, of late, to return to his A-list status from the late-1990's. Personally, I don't think he ever lost it. Sure, he made some mistakes. What made them so monumental was that they were costly for the studios involved. "Waterworld" and "The Postman" lost a lot of money in the states, and films like "For Love of the Game" and "3,000 Miles to Graceland" didn't help matters. But amidst all of that wreckage we found gems like "Tin Cup" and "The War". Of late, Costner has been doing a decent job of staying on the right side with critics. "Open Range", his last directorial effort, was a critical favorite as well as a commercial success. "The Upside of Anger" had Costner's name circulating for possible awards consideration, somewhere he hadn't been in a while. "Rumor Has It" and "The Guardian" were slight falters, but they made enough money to not be disasters. "Mr. Brooks" is probably Costner's most unusual choice of late, but it might be his most inspired. You just don't typically envision Costner in a role like this. "Mr. Brooks" is what "American Psycho" would be if Christian Bale's character were middle aged, married and incredibly wealthy.

We first meet Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner) as he received the Portland "Man of the Year" award, where he makes some cheesy jokes and thanks his gorgeous wife (Marg Helgenberger). As they drive home from the awards ceremony, we meet Marshall (William Hurt), Mr. Brooks' alter-ego and the other half of his dual personality. Mr. Brooks has decided he wants to stop killing, but Marshall is the little devil on his shoulder who persuades him to kill a young dance instructor and his student. Mr. Brooks eventually agrees because he loves the feeling. However, he makes a crucial mistake and is photographed by a peeping tom next door (Dane Cook) who threatens to turn Mr. Brooks in unless Mr. Brooks takes him along on his next murder. All the while, Mr. Brooks is being pursued by a hard-nosed detective (Demi Moore) who wants to solve his murders, once and for all. You see, Mr. Brooks is known as the 'thumbprint killer' because of the way he leaves his crime scenes, and Detective Atwood is hellbent on stopping him. However, she must also deal with a nasty divorce and the recent escape of another serial killer she locked away, who wants revenge on her. So, there is a lot floating around "Mr. Brooks" and a good chunk of it really isn't necessary at all.

Director Bruce A. Evans is attempting to do something very difficult with "Mr. Brooks" - to make us, the audience, root for a serial killer. He wants us to sympathize with Mr. Brooks and what he is going through. A lot of attention is spent on Mr. Brooks family life, especially the relationship he has with his daughter (Danielle Panabaker). We see Mr. Brooks as a normal family man who just happens to get off on murdering innocent people. We also never really know how many people Mr. Brooks has killed over the course of his life. At the end, he reveals it could be hundreds. What makes it easier for us to like Mr. Brooks is the matter-of-fact method by which he goes about doing what he does. The interaction between he and his alter-ego is totally appropriate and well played and serves to make him more entertaining and more sympathetic. Though we want Mr. Brooks to be able to stop what he is doing, we also don't want anything bad to happen to him. It's kind of a catch-22, but we don't feel guilty for it. Kudos to Bruce A. Evans for making Mr. Brooks as nasty and as vile as he possibly can in some scenes and then coupling those with scenes where he seems like such a devoted father and husband. I also loved how Mr. Brooks referred to his killing people as an 'addiction'. He even attends AA meetings to help him with his 'addiction'.

What doesn't work is Demi Moore's character. I guess they needed more filler for the film, but there was no need for the superfluous and redundant scenes involving her tracking down this other serial killer who escaped. We also didn't need to know near as much about her divorce. We don't care about her character. She's a bitch, and not in an entertaining way. We could care less whether her character lives or dies. And it doesn't help that Demi Moore plays her as wooden as she possibly can. I guess she just hasn't acted enough lately and might be a little rusty. As for Dane Cook, his character is more necessary, but not really. Cook does a decent enough job with it, but I have to think there were far better choices out there for that role. And he does not have enough box office draw to make his selection appropriate in any way. At the end of the film, I just wanted to see more of Mr. Brooks and Marshall. Those are the characters that keep our attention. Costner really has vicious fun with this role and he plays it so well. His acting during the last few minutes of the film are stellar. William Hurt is equally sinister as Marshall, the split personality. Hurt has just as much fun with the role and gets to really go off on sadistic tangents. I loved it. I would have also scratched the 'faux ending' - you'll know precisely what I am talking about.

On the whole, "Mr. Brooks" has some substantial flaws, but it's just damned entertaining. I was never bored watching the film and wish they would have scrapped all of the unnecessary supporting characters and given us more Costner. I am one of Costner's supporters and I will quickly defend him to people who want to tear him down. He has a certain charisma and a certain draw that makes him pleasant to watch on screen, which also helps us root for his murderous ways. An actor like Sean Penn or Robert De Niro could have never pulled this role off because they would not have been sympathetic when they were committing these atrocities. Mr. Brooks is and that is because of Kevin Costner. "Mr. Brooks" needs to ditch the entire Demi Moore character, or condense it to a few scenes; ditch the Dane Cook character or make him a small supporting character; add more scenes with William Hurt; give Marg Helgenberger something else to do; scrap the 'faux ending' and end it the right way; and cut out any and all of the melodrama, and there is some. "Mr. Brooks" was a good choice for Costner and it entertained the hell out of me. It's not the second coming and it's not going to change your life, but I think it will at least keep you smiling most of the time.

Edd #1: Edd - added 06/04/2007, 11:39 AM
Certainly not as good as critics were saying. Dane Cook was awful. Costner's portrayal of the killer is really the only thing this movie had going for it. 4/10
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added 06/04/2007, 12:21 PM
Critics really haven't liked this film. In fact, it's a rotten tomato according to the website. As for Dane Cook, he wasn't awful. He played a voyeur exactly the way a voyeur should be played. And Kevin Costner and William Hurt stole the whole damned show.
effin #3: effin - added 11/29/2007, 11:54 PM
I watched this movie with my wife, and we both liked it, which, speaks well of itself. Cook did okay, Costner was really well played and didn't act outside of himself, if that makes sense. Hurt was great, between this and History of Violence, he is really starting to come up on one of my faves. I thought the movie flowed really well, with the exception of the cemetary scene. I didn't think this really fit the style of the movie, along with the dream sequence. I have recomended this movie to my coworkers, but the don't have the greatest taste in movies (big Vin Deisle fans if you get my drift), So that really doesn't say much. I have heard that this may be a trillogy, not sure, i would watch a sequal if it came out, and would watch this again. Very Slick 7.5/10
Lucid Dreams #4: Lucid Dreams - added 02/23/2010, 02:55 PM
I agree with effin. 7/10
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