Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner) - successful businessman, loving husband and father - is secretly an insatiable serial murderer known as The Thumbprint Killer, so clever no one has ever suspected him-until now. After two years of inactivity, his pathological compulsion is inflamed again by his wicked alter ego, Marshall (William Hurt). When succumbing to one more urge to murder Mr. Brooks commits his first mistake and is seen by peeping Tom photographer (Dane Cook), who tries to blackmail him with a bizarre demand. The crime sets off Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore) a tenacious detective (Demi Moore), whose acrimonious divorce and an escaped killer complicates her drive to solve the identity of the Thumbprint Killer. Meanwhile, his daughter Jane (Danielle Panabaker) drops out of college - and has more than one surprise for her parents.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The level of Hollywood plastic reaches new heights - or depths - in Mr Brooks, a fatally boring movie comprised of assembled odd parts, as if the result of a night raid on a script morgue. The plot centres on Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner), addicted to killing like others are addicted to alcohol. He even attends AA in an effort to stop himself, but he can't get rid of Marshall (William Hurt), his alter ego and a constant backseat driver - literally and figuratively. Even if we swallowed Marshall's ghostly presence during otherwise naturalistic scenes, we'd be excused for laughing at their relationship and their dialogue. It's a risky idea that is so wide of the mark as to be laughable, excellent acting notwithstanding.
But even ignoring that ill-conceived device doesn't help the film; Earl Brooks, celebrated as a brilliant businessman and philanthropist, indeed, feted as Man of the Year at the start, never does any work. Not a phone call, not a meeting. Nor is he a real character, despite spending a lot of effort to try and become one. The forced and manipulated story is undermined by a lack of attention to detail - ironically enough for a story about a meticulous serial killer. I won't bore you with all of them, but here are just a couple: Brooks has a gadget that refastens door chains after he gains entry to his victims' apartment, which he uses again after he leaves. When we see the police swarming over the corpses, we are never told who found the bodies and how they gained access.
Brooks, with help from his inner Marshall, hacks into Detective Tracy Atwood's (Demi Moore) FBI files with ease, and in seven keystrokes has her financial profile on the screen. After a nasty incident with an escaped killer intent on revenge, Atwood is thrown about 10 metres from a speeding car, onto an approaching vehicle, landing on her back. The only injury she suffers is a head cut, which is stitched up while she is having a conversation with a superior - and she takes no notice of the stitching. Nor is there any sign of the injury ever again.
Enough already; this is such a waste of everyone's talent and time.
Review by Louise Keller:
He drinks milk, is quietly spoken, and is a considerate husband who dotes on his daughter. Hence it is doubly disconcerting that the flip side of this seemingly model citizen, who is ultra successful in business, reveals him to be a callous serial killer, who kills simply for kicks. 'What would life be without surprises?' Kevin Costner's complex Mr Brooks asks. He plays the role to perfection in this, a film filled with surprises - from the concept to the plotline, the characters, their journeys and even the music, which adds a raw edge. We are seduced into the twisted mind of a tortured individual whose clear, rational thought process makes him persuasively chilling. It's brave, engrossing, fascinating and terrifying as we get under the skin of the formidable Mr Brooks. So well is it done, that I found myself feeling guilty that I was enjoying it so much, and was able to empathise so wholeheartedly with his thought process.
'Don't let me do this; I don't want to do this,' Earl Brooks tells himself, head buried in his hands at the beginning of the film. There is no doubt he is serious about quitting (he even goes to AA meetings, confessing he is an addict), but his alter-ego Marshall (brilliantly played by William Hurt) eggs him on. The camaraderie between Earl and Marshall is a force to be reckoned with, as is the sick sense of humour they share. Like Superman in his guise as Clark Kent, Earl wears black-rimmed glasses in his day to day life, but removes them, when the uncontrollable devil in him becomes unleashed.
There's more to every character than meets the eye and all the relationships have a twist. There's Earl's rebellious daughter Jane (Danielle Panabaker), Dane Cook's voyeuristic 'Mr Smith' and Demi Moore's persistent detective Tracy, who doesn't know how to ask for help. Ironically, hers is the character that's hardest to believe as she pursues dangerous criminals in dark corners and is only irked by her pretty-boy ex husband's money-grubbing ways. Writer director Bruce A. Evans has created an intriguing work that delves deep into the cracks of the mind's darkest abyss. I like the ending too, which artfully leaves us with the very essence of this unsettling character.
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MR BROOKS (MA)
CAST: Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, Dane Cook, William Hurt, Marg Helgenberger, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Danielle Panabaker, Aisha Hinds, Lindsay Crouse, Jason Lewis
PRODUCER: Kevin Costner, Raynold Gideon, Jim Wilson
DIRECTOR: Bruce A. Evans
SCRIPT: Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Lindley
EDITOR: Miklos Wright
MUSIC: Ramin Djawadi
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jeffrey Beecroft
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 2, 2007