U.S. Release Date:
June 1, 2007
Director: Bruce A. Evans
Writer: Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon
Producer: Kevin Costner, Raynold Gideon, Jim Wilson
Composer: Ramin Djawadi
Cast: Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, William Hurt, Dane Cook, Marg Helgenberger, Danielle Panabaker
Running Time: 2 hours
MPAA Rating: R (strong bloody violence, some graphic sexual content, nudity and language)
Dark, disturbing and not particularly deep, the serial killer-themed Mr. Brooks, featuring Kevin Costner in the Jekyll and Hyde title role, is a contrived lesson in moral relativism. Nobody's good, nobody's evil—everyone's just trying to get by, even the outwardly benign Mr. Brooks, a self-made businessman—the telltale tipoff that a character's a monster in the movies—who murders couples during sex in his spare time.
This happens only once or twice during the picture, written and directed by Bruce A. Evans. Evans turns his camera on the private life and multiple crises of the modern mass murderer, which means watching Mr. Brooks, who runs a packaging company, multitasking through a police investigation, blackmail and an unplanned pregnancy.
On that last one, the serial killer opposes an abortion. He also wears bow ties and, between his fancy Pacific Northwest house and his fancy Pacific Northwest corporate headquarters, he finds time to attend Alcoholics Anonymous, counsel his daughter (Danielle Panabaker), lie to his wife (Marg Helgenberger) and gun people down.
Hounding him all the way is Marshall (William Hurt), a figment of Mr. Brooks' imagination, egging him back into action after a two-year hiatus—thanks to those 12-step meetings—and recitations of the Serenity prayer. But, as an eerie opening discloses, evil resides in Mr. Brooks, and it never really left. It's something over which he has no control and he is not necessarily alone, as he discovers in a turn of events even the clever, choreographed Mr. Brooks might not have foreseen.
That contrivance, one of several dangling What If... scenarios, keeps this mildly provocative movie in perpetual motion. Demi Moore, in long hair and a pinstripe suit, and fine in a role that trades on her hardened reputation, portrays a tough cop in the throes of divorce in pursuit of Mr. Brooks' Thumbprint Killer.
That her character is also worth $60 million is one of numerous hard to swallow pills in Mr. Brooks, which runs her through what looks like another movie—one that's an Eighties action retread. There's also unseen action, cheap shocks and Dane Cook's peeping tom character—a walking, talking plot distraction—and, ultimately, the domestic and extracurricular affairs of the ultra-organized Mr. Brooks do not amount to much.
As he says, turning to the camera in a moment of Mr. Costner's signature moral ambiguity, "so what?" Though there are worse ways to kill a couple of hours, Mr. Brooks has that part down pat.
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