Kevin Costner is addicted to killing in ‘Mr. Brooks'; his next victim should be the film itself

Mr. Brooks

on June 01, 2007 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
It might be time to declare a moratorium on movies about serial killers. Like the victims in Mr. Brooks , this increasingly tiresome subject is due for a proper burial.

Dour Kevin Costner plays the title character, a long-time serial murderer known as the “The Thumbprint Killer.” For two years he has held his demons at bay, mostly through his diligent attendance at AA meetings. But now, just after he's received an award as Businessman of the Year, he‘s suddenly compelled to kill again.

This time, he's observed in the act by a neighbor of the victims (Dane Cook) who blackmails Mr. Brooks. It's not money “Mr. Smith” is after, however, but rather a ride-along on Mr. Brooks' next kill in order to experience what murdering someone feels like. That's far-fetched enough, but then so is the idea that a serial killer in his straight life would call attention to himself by maintaining such a public persona that he appears in the society pages of his local newspaper.

Oh, yes, there's also another serial killer, a prison escapee, who pops up later on, but he appears to exist only to make life difficult for the determined detective (Demi Moore, giving her usual vapid performance) who put him in jail, even as she works to bring Mr. Brooks down. And let's not forget Marshall (William Hurt), Mr. Brooks' alter ego, the monster within who eggs him on to kill again and again.

Mr. Brooks only grows progressively more contrived as it goes on, with one final loopy plot twist involving Mr. Brooks' daughter (Danielle Panabaker) that has to be seen to be disbelieved. It doesn't help that Costner, who is at his best when he has fun, a la Tin Cup and Bull Durham , is so dully dogged in his part. The overacting Dane Cook, on the other hand, is so obnoxious that you'll wish for his imminent demise.

There are good actors in this film, notably Lindsay Crouse as a police captain and Marg Helgenberger as Mr. Brooks' oblivious wife, but they're given little to do. Conversely, Hurt has plenty of material to work with, but one isn't sure anyone could make the cliched, over-the-top and profane Marshall ring true.

There's really nothing worthwhile about Mr. Brooks , which, to add insult to injury, drags on for a whole two painful hours. This is bottom-of-the-barrel filmmaking that never should have gone beyond the planning stages. Distributor: MGM
Cast: Kevin Costner, William Hurt, Demi Moore and Dane Cook
Director: Bruce A. Evans
Screenwriters: Bruce A. Evans & Raynold Gideon
Producers: Jim Wilson and Kevin Costner
Genre: Drama
Rating: R for strong bloody violence, some graphic sexual content, nudity and language
Running time: 120 min.
Release date: June 1, 2007
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