If you wear glasses, chances are, you’re going to be the creepy guy in the movie.
The film follows Mr. Brooks (Kevin Costner), a celebrated Portland businessman and serial killer who is forced to take on a protégé (Dane Cook) after being blackmailed, and has to contend with his bloodthirsty alter-ego (William Hurt) who convinces him to indulge his “habit”. His life grows even more complicated when a driven police officer (Demi Moore) reopens the investigation into his murders. But what happens when two worlds collide and a serial-killer has to make up his mind as to which one to follow? All hell and murder break loose!
Serial killer movies don’t really work for me probably because they don’t really do anything different with their subjects. A person has some messed up ideas in his head, wants to kill people, decides to kill people, it continues to go and on, until it all spirals out of control, and then somebody eventually catches them. That’s not how every single serial killer movie ever made plays out but that’s a good majority of them which is why I was somewhat happy to see a bit of a twist with one that seemed so ordinary and conventional, but somehow became a bit more understated than I expected. Even for a mainstream, serial killer flick.
What I liked about director Bruce A. Evans’ approach to this generic plot, is that he doesn’t really gives us a reason to despise Mr. Brooks, and for that reason, we kind of like him. Now, of course he still kills people only because he gets off on doing such a thing, but there was never in a point in this flick where it seemed like he was a terrible person that we should all hate, not feel any sympathy for, and actually want him to get found out and killed by the end. I’m not saying I liked him at all but when things start to go bad for him and he eventually starts to see his serial killing ways go right down the drain, I somehow felt worried for him that he was going to get found out and die. I wasn’t rooting for him the whole time hoping that he would find another couple of victims for him to “off”, but by the same token, I kind of didn’t him to go away either. It’s a weird feeling I had throughout the whole flick but it was still a pretty neat approach that you rarely so often see anymore, especially in a mainstream movie.
For about the first hour and 15 minutes, the plot also kept me very intrigued. The whole feeling of this movie is pretty tense right from the get-go, but it only gets worse as the story starts to have its own little twists and turns, which is when things start to get very interesting. The film is slow and there is a lot of talking going on here rather than some boom-boom action, but I liked the way how Evans let everything settle in and move on itself without having him to resort it to some crazy gun-battles. However, that was all in the first hour and 15 minutes, because after that, well, things start to get a little strange.
What bothered me the most about this flick was the non-stop subplots that would keep on continuing to pile on as the film progressed. I liked the central premise with Brooks coming to terms with his murderous demons and working out a deal with a dude that’s spotted him, but then they bring more in like Moore’s character’s divorce; her problems with another serial killer; Brooks’ daughter being involved with a murder; Brooks daughter having a baby; and plenty more where those came from, and all seemed like over-kill to the point of where I lost my focus on what was really the story at hand. They all somehow come together in the end, but it’s very messy and seems like it was just an excuse for the director to make sense of all of these random subplots that would come into play out of nowhere.
Another aspect of this film that bothered me was Demi Moore as the cop that is trying to track down Mr. Brooks, Detective Attwood. I get it, Moore hasn’t been on the big-screen in quite some time and whenever she is, she doesn’t play the usual, bad-ass characters people all knew and love her for back in the day. So it’s understandable that Evans would want to give her another go around at the fame she once had, but I don’t if it was Ashton Kutcher’s little flings on the side that got her all messed up, or the non-stop whippets, but her acting chops have really plummeted in recent years. Moore tries to do her tough girl role that worked so well for her back in the day, you know, when she was playing a freakin’ monster in G.I. Jane!?! Now, it just comes off as corny and unbelievable considering the whole movie is pretty much spent around her worrying about whether or not she’s going to have to pay $2 million dollars to her ex-husband. Stupid, I know and her subplots take up way too much of the film. More than I really needed to be honest.
But, despite her, at least we get a very good lead performance from Kevin Costner who is probably the main reason why Mr. Brooks isn’t hated in this movie. Costner plays this role with a very deadpan approach, not showing too much emotion and delivering his lines like he just got up from a nap, but that’s not so bad because he’s believable as a guy who only kills because he has an addiction. May sound a bit cheesy, but watching this film, you’ll see that it’s actually very believable, especially when you have such a sweet, charming, and rich man doing all of these secret killings. Glad to see him back in a lead role but to my surprise, he hasn’t had one for a mainstream movie ever since this one. Hopefully, Pa Kent will bring him back to the spotlight for most movie-goers.
A lot of Costner’s charm comes out whenever he has his “talks” with William Hurt, who plays his alter-ego, Marshall. Hurt always plays these evil assholes and always seems to be having a total ball with them, and this one is no different. Marshall’s constantly around, giving his two cents on everything that happens, and actually delivering some moments of dark humor. Another alright supporting performance comes from Dane Cook, in one of his first dramatic roles as Mr. Smith. Cook is good here and doesn’t really do much that would make us laugh at him, intentionally and unintentionally, so it’s fine but I’m still not a fan of him and his annoying, caffeinated-induced stand-up.
Consensus: Mr. Brooks puts a very interesting-spin on the serial killer genre with a lead character that we actually like, including a very strong performance from Costner in the lead role, but the plot takes too much steam away from this and keeps on getting more convoluted as each and every single twist and turn makes its way in there.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!