Mr. Brooks Reviews
What happens when the old-school, compulsive psychopath with cushy job and upper-bourgeois house and family joins forces with the post-modern, culture-shocked-punk-psycho who's been inundated by his gore-obsessed, desensitized, and voyeuristic anomie?Maybe something interesting, if you can keep those lines drawn firm. Kevin Costner as the titular Mr. Brooks - our daytime "Man of the Year" and nighttime 44 calibre killer - even has a proverbial red-devil on his shoulder in the form of a slyly "kill-kill-kill," imaginary friend named Wallace (William Hurt). Dane Cook is that twenty-something imp and peeping-tom with a proclivity for the dark side. Costner plays sensei to Cook's young-grasshopper in the ways of effective stalk-and-slaughter.
An intriguing premise if left to simmer, but director Bruce A. Evans can't keep his hands off. He's going for moody goth-art, but ends up with pseudo-sophisto, pastiche and never realizes his hand is B material from first deal. It doesn't help that his screenplay stacks the deck with listless subplots and tertiary do-nothings, like, Demi Moore's Detective Atwood who does less detection than divorcee, deposition-room whining and fist fighting superfluous baddies in head-shakingly inapt action sequences. Throw in Brooks' daughter as a possible next-in-line, hatchet wielding, suburban-death-angel, and now you've got the consummately preposterous in a shapeless, distracted, digression of plot threads with more pretension and less focus than CSI: Miami.
Simply watching the interplay between Costner and Hurt is worth the price of admission, and they are wonderful as alter egos who, by the end of the film switch roles; the adventurous Hurt pleading caution, while the more cautious and conscientious Costner hatches an elaborate plan to not only remove himself from the tangled prediciment he's found himself in, but save his daughter, who, the film reminds us in a nice touch at the film's end, really shouldn't be saved.
I had no problem believing that a serial killer could have a conscience, trying to keep his demons at bay with a 12 step program, nor did I have a problem with Dane Cook's vouyeristic charactor getting a charge out of witnessing a murder and blackmailing Costner for a repeat performance - that seedy side of humanity struck a certain chord of moral ambiguity where the perceived wants of the individual supercede the cival contract of societies mores; and I think that simply being "outside the box" was part of the allure.
What the film portrays of human nature is a strength here - from the glee in Cook's eye as he imagines actually killing an idiot driver who has cut him off, to the split personality of Costner/Hurt - who both are necessary parts of the whole.
Where the film loses its luster is with the Demi Moore charactor. The psycobabble explainations for rich girl turned cop simply doesn't wash, and the scene where the "hangman killer" shoots and misses Moore in a lighted hallway from 20 feet away when he had all the time in the world to take careful aim... seemed so out of place in a script that was otherwise so well conceived. The following gunplay, shot in strobe light jerks and odd angles also seemed to have been edited in from a different film.
The pentultimate scene where Costner, after managing to make his persona (the thumb print killer) disappear (leading the police to believe that the lately deceased Cook was the killer), then calls Moore to ask a rather inane question - thus revealing that he is still around, made the entire setup before it superflous. He's far to intelligent to fall into the old "all serial killers want to draw attention to themselves" routine. He and his alter ego even have a discussion about it - and then he goes and reveals himself anyway. Nooooo!
A hardened detective enters into a tenuous symbiotic relationship with the vicious serial killer she is tracking after earning the respect of the murderous madman in this vicious psychological thriller starring Demi Moore, Kevin Costner, and William Hurt. Earl Brooks (Costner) is a successful businessman, noted philanthropist, and loving father. He's the kind of man that no one would ever suspect of being a notorious serial killer, but then again history's most dubious psychopaths are often the quiet neighbor who no one would ever suspect capable of committing such unspeakable atrocities. Until now, no one has had any reason to link Earl Brooks with the heinous crimes of the dreaded Thumbprint Killer. Even his beautiful wife (Marg Helgenburger) and teenage daughter (Danielle Panabaker) could never conceive of such an awful truth. But when Mr. Brooks's dark side begins to outshine his sane exterior, an amateur photographer (Dane Cook) captures the killer succumbing to his murderous instinct on film. Now, as Mr. Brooks is pursued by tenacious detective Tracy Atwood (Moore) and forced to bend to the will of an opportunistic bystander, the killer who was once able to keep his murderous alter ego (Hurt) in check finds his control steadily slipping.
It takes Hollywood vets like WiIliam Hurt and Kevin Costner to fill the screen with such rich, nuanced characters - -- These guys are so good together they have inadvertently formed a new acting team. It should be noted that it is Costner who has really taken the chance here -- for Hurt this was a no-lose situation and an extension of his work in A History of Violence (which is not to take away from how superb he is here.) But Costner was risking looking desperate or failing at re-invention.
This film is a true black comedy insofar as it is not really a comedy but the lines and the situations are so exquisitely cruel and deadpan that they become droll and you have to laugh. True the film is saddled with what was likely some executive's decision to push the police angle into Seven-ish territory, but the director is able to keep things reigned in and not lose the main focus.
Demi Moore manages (barely) not to embarrass herself although admittedly her role is essentially a thankless jumble of police procedure cliché and gun-toting trailer-fodder.
Mr. Brooks is a great thriller that has steadily grown in popularity since its initial theatrical release. Costner is able to turn on and off the viscous creature that stirs in him.
The real standout is the actor who gives that creature depth and a presence. William Hurt steals the show Mr. Brooks alter-ego Marshall. He is the evil that men do. He is that devil that sits on your shoulder, yet there are a few instances where he seems to be the more subdued of the pair. Dane Cook and Demi Moore also give solid supporting performances as well.
If Hitchcock was still alive he would have made Mr. Brooks. Would it be better? Probably, but it has that flair that makes this film unique compared to the other thrillers that have come out in the last few years. You're rooting for the villain, aren't you?
Enter, "Mr. Brooks."
It has been a while since I have been taken so by a thriller of this nature as they have tended to go the way of the least common denominator sacrificing all integrity in the face of the masses screaming for slash and hack. This film does not do that. This film will bring you inside and have you feel the hunt and the struggle.
Kevin Costner surprises in the role of Mr. Brooks and William Hurt is magnificent as always. Demi Moore does a fine job and Dane Cook is thankfully innocuous, but effective in his very necessary role.
I cannot go on here without revealing and there is SO very much to be revealed.
Go into this allowing yourself to be consumed by that which compels Mr. Brooks and check your own thirst for a pulse.
Kevin Costner totally sells it, and even though there's somewhat of a "twist" to look look forward to, it not the best part of this one.
The look and feel of the movie is really crisp and clean, and I liked it overall....
Lots of people recommended this to me, and I can see why.