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Mr. Brooks Review

By Shawn McKenzie 08/25/2007

The Synopsis:

Portland businessman Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner) is the Chamber of Commerce philanthropist of the year.  While he is happy to share the award with his loving wife Emma (Marg Helgenberger), he is stressed about a couple other things.  Their college freshman daughter Jane (Danielle Panabaker) wasn’t there to also share in the moment, which bums him out.  Oh yeah…he is also addicted to killing.  Even though he hasn’t killed anyone in two years, the urge still exists.  The authorities know him as “The Fingerprint Killer,” but he has never been caught, because he is precise in his killings.  He has held off the urges by going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, but his alter ego, Marshall (William Hurt)…a personification of his own id that only he can speak to or see…keeps egging him on to do more killing.  Detectives Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore) and Hawkins (Ruben Santiago-Hudson) are trying to catch The Fingerprint Killer, but Tracy has some other issues of her own as well to deal with.  She has inherited $64 million from her dad, and her sleazy restaurateur soon-to-be ex-husband Jesse Vialo (Jason Lewis) is fighting her for a piece of that pie.  Also, Thorton Meeks (Matt Schulze), a.k.a. The Hangman Killer…a serial killer she previously locked up…has broken out of jail and, along with his girlfriend Sarah Leaves (Traci Dinwiddie), wants revenge on Atwood.  Anyway…Earl finally gives into temptation and kills a young dance couple (Megan Brown and Ross Francis) in their apartment while they are having sex.  Unfortunately, the shades of the couple’s apartment were open and a neighbor from the building across the street…a man who identifies himself only as Mr. Smith (Dane Cook)…has accidentally photographed Mr. Brooks killing them (he was really intending to just film the couple having sex.)  Instead of going to the police, he blackmails Earl…but not for money though.  He wants to tag along with Earl while he does his next kill…just for the thrill of it.  Earl is also concerned when Jane drops out of school not long after a murder has occurred on her campus, making him afraid that she may have the killing addiction gene.  Earl must deal with the demands of Marshall, the intimidation of Mr. Smith’s blackmail, and Jane’s possible homicidal tendencies…all while avoiding Atwood’s pursuit of him.

The Review:

Mr. Brooks was one of those movies that I wasn’t completely crazy about when I first saw it.  Fortunately, it grew on me.

The main reason I wasn’t keen on it was because of Mr. Costner.  His laid back, calm performance didn’t exactly scream “menacing.”  A colleague of mine pointed out that most serial killers don’t really advertise that they are evil, which makes them that much more evil.  Sure…you can have your Hannibal Lecters who freak you out right away while talking to them…but the real scary serial killers are the ones you don’t see coming.  I heard that Ted Bundy was frequently described as educated and charming.  He eventually confessed to thirty murders between 1974 and 1978.  Who is more dangerous…the scary guy you avoid who may have killed before…or the average Joe who you never see coming?

The thing that makes this movie more interesting is the performance by Hurt.  Unlike Costner’s low-key performance, Hurt showed some crazy humor and personality.  While I believe that both actors had fun in their roles…Hurt looked as if he had even more fun.

You what is the shocker about this movie?  Cook didn’t annoy the heck out of me!  I’m starting to think that he might want to consider doing more dramas instead of comedies…because I honestly don’t find him very funny.

The female performances stand out overall here.  Moore does her usual great job playing tough but vulnerable.  The only gripe I had with her was that her character was a little too overwritten.  The whole subplot about her being a rich heiress slumming it as a cop and having to deal with a gold-digging ex only managed to make the movie longer than it needed to be.  Panabaker surprising as a girl whom Earl didn’t know if she had her father’s disease or not.  I would praise Emmy-winning actress Helgenberger, because she is so good on CBS’s “C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation,” but she plays the clichéd “supportive wife” role, with nothing else to do otherwise.  I’m guessing that this was a quick paycheck for her during the break from filming her TV show.

Mr. Brooks is the second film by director Bruce A. Evans, following his 1992 action comedy Kuffs (which I really liked.)  Meanwhile, he was the screenwriter for some great ‘80s movies (1984’s Starman and 1986’s Stand by Me) and some ‘90s clunkers (1995’s Cutthroat Island and 1997’s Jungle 2 Jungle.)  Here’s hoping that he is able to make more movies with the success of this movie.  As far as Costner goes…he is an acquired taste if given a little bit of time.  Fortunately, his performance here was delicious.


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