A movie starring Kevin Costner and Demi Moore? Is this the 1980’s? I surely wasn’t the first person surprised by this, and will likely not be the last, but I was surprised at how solid of a movie this was. Released this summer, and promptly disappearing under the weight of countless big budget blockbusters, Mr. Brooks will undoubtedly find success on the home video market. An old-fashioned thriller, upgraded with the current horror-standard gore of today, Mr. Brooks throws surprises and twists at you, never stopping until the absolutely startling final seconds.
Encounter a man who has everything, and you’ll find a man who has everything to hide. Consider Mr. Brooks (Kevin Costner). A successful businessman, a generous philanthropist, a loving father and devoted husband. Seemingly, he’s perfect. But Mr. Brooks has a secret – he is the insatiable Thumbprint Killer, who has managed to keep his two incompatible worlds from intersecting. Struggling to keep his killer instincts in check and rehabilitate his menacing criminal passions, Brooks must suppress his sadistic alter ego, Marshall (William Hurt). However, complications quickly arise in the form of tenacious Homicide Detective Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore) and “Mr. Smith” (Dane Cook), an amateur photographer who witnesses Brooks’ most recent crime and develops his own thirst for killing.
Right out of the gate I want to say that this film should have been a bigger hit in the theatres. It’s a sleek, taut movie with a couple teeny flaws (which I’ll get to). What struck me most was the movie’s portrayal of Mr. Brooks, the lead character and serial character. Here we see him attending AA meetings and reciting the Serenity Prayer to try and curb his bloodlust. It’s such an interesting and well through-out portrayal, and, as the movie progresses, we see how it affects his daily life, in every way.
There’s an interesting, if slightly undeveloped subplot, involving his daughter which stirs so many emotions in him. As he digs to find out what his daughter is hiding, we find it get progressively twisted. And since the subplot is a bit undeveloped, it does allow us to fill in the blanks ourselves, which actually makes it all the more engaging. Is there more here than meets the eye, or is Mr. Brooks making grabbing at straws? Of course, there is a moment where it seems obvious that his daughter shares the same murderous rage, but this can be interpreted in a couple ways. This plot line may seem unimportant during the course of the movie, but it does roar back toward the end, leaving its mark on Mr. Brooks. While we follow our assumptions base on Brook’s very own assumptions, there’s a lot left open to interpretation here, and it helps fuel the conflict within Mr. Brooks.
The conflict is also fueled by his murderous alter-ego, Marshall, played to sheer perfection by William Hurt. Again, I found this interpretation of the traditional serial killer to be much more engaging and interesting than what I’ve seen before, and that’s mostly fueled by the great interaction between Hurt and Costner. Their scenes together just exude tension, malevolence, and twisted glee.
If there was any weak point of the movie, it’s the subplot of Moore’s character, who’s not only dealing with a nasty divorce, but a killer, dubbed “The Hangman Killer,” who’s hot on her trail after escaping prison. This leads to a couple tense face-offs but, ultimately, I found the resolution too tidy and the plot a bit unnecessary. But, again, one has to take into account if Mr. Brooks is involved with how that plot is resolved, which, again, changes how this plotline plays out. What I enjoy about this movie is how so certain aspects are open to interpretation and how that actually affects the lives of other characters in this movie. All that considered, Moore is pretty solid in the role given to her. Still, there’s a shoot-out later in the movie, involving Moore, which has a weird The Matrix-vibe to it. Feels a bit out of place.
And yes, Dane Cook is in this movie, but, have no fear, he actually does a pretty good job in his slacker-esque role, and actually shows off some acting chops as the movie progresses toward the end. But, if you’re not a fan of Cook, there are a couple scenes in the movie that you should find enjoyable.
In the end, as the credits roll, I found myself thoroughly engaged by the movie. I found it to be a genuinely spellbinding movie. And, yes, there’s a tense last minute scene which will jolt you off the couch. Mr. Brooks is a great movie, hands down, and definitely deserves a second life on home video. It’s not perfect, but it’s worth checking out. Costner and Hurt deliver just amazing performances, and the supporting cast more then pull their weight, as well. The movie has all the trapping of an old-fashioned thriller, free of the unnecessary gore and torture that many movies find themselves trapped in. It’s a solid movie from top to bottom, and, with so much open to interpretation, there’s obviously more here than what you see, and that will undoubtedly help it gain the cult status is rightfully deserves. It’s an interesting look at the serial killer and how things are not always as they seem at the surface of things.
Oh, and for those looking for what happened to Reiko Aylesworth after 24, she has a small delicious role in here, as well.
Before I forget, I’d like to make special mention of a song used in the movie, called “Vicious Traditions” by The Veils. Once you hear this song, you will, undoubtedly, be searching for it the next day. For those interested in a great music video for the song, created by MGM to support Mr. Brooks, check out this link. It’s a great song and a brilliant promotional video for a movie that more people should see. Plus, I absolutely love how the promotional video opens, with Brooks reciting the Serenity Prayer, and rolling on from there.
So, how does the DVD stack up? The DVD includes a nice array of extras, some exploring how this character, and movie, were created. Included is a commentary by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideo, deleted Scenes with optional commentary, “The Birth of a Serial Killer: A Look at the Writing of Mr. Brooks” featurette, “On the Set of Mr. Brooks” featurette, and “Murder On Their Minds: Mr. Brooks, Marshall & Mr. Smith” featurette. Fans may want to deviate toward the commentary, which includes many more details on the movie than the featurettes provide.
Very well done and gripping, Mr. Brooks comes Recommended at least for a rental. You may wish to give this movie a quick check before opting to buy it, but I think this movie is definitely worth it, and one that definitely has rewatchability. While the movie does have a couple flaws, and the odd silly scene, it’s still a great movie with an excellent, excellent ending. The DVD is also well-packed with a nice heaping of extras, so give it a shot and I’m sure you’ll find Mr. Brooks‘s story to be well worth your time.
Mr. Brooks is now available on DVD.