reviewed by Andrew James
Kevin Costner plays Mr. Brooks; an extremely well off family man who owns a successful company, is the city's man of the year and what seems to be pretty much the perfect life. By night though, he is forced to fight inner demons that compel him to kill innocent people around the town. He is known in the media and by the police as the thumb print serial killer. But Brooks is far too intelligent for anyone to know his true identity.
What helps him to keep his smarts and wits about him is his alter-ego; played by William Hurt. In these scenes, which are actually quite prevalent and engrossing, Costner and Hurt banter back and forth about morality and killing. Although we can actually see the two of them speaking out loud to one another (even though Hurt's character is just in Brooks' head), the rest of the characters in the film just seem to be watching Brooks as he thinks to himself. While we get to watch the clever dialogue and orignal way of seeing a dual personality portrayed. In other films with a dual personality, the character either appears to be talking out loud to himself, thus appearing to other characters as a crazy person, or we just hear and see the alter-ego speaking while our main character just appears to be listening. And sometimes, there is a simple narration that relays to the audience what two people are thinking. Here is something truly original (at least that I can think of) in which we actually see the two personalities converse, while the other characters seem to be stuck in time just waiting for Brooks to respond. If that makes any sense, good.
The film actually reminded me a lot of spring, 2007's Fracture. Not necessarily by plot or story, but by several factors. One, it's a highly polished, Hollywood thriller. That much is certain. This is far from an art film or an independently produced idea. It has got all the flair and big names of a Hollywood, big budget film dealing with suspicion and murder. Second, it has the seasoned, veteran actors (Costner, Hurt or Moore) pitted with or against younger, hotter stars like Dane Cook. Now, I would hardly compare Cook to the likes of Ryan Gosling, but still, the overall film comparison is there. It also is very dark. Much of the film takes place at night or in the rain or in a darkened room; fairly similar to Fracture in that regard. Sort of a modern, big-budget version of film noir. You'll see what I mean if you see this film.
There is one scene that is mysteriously out of place. more out of place than any scene from any film that I can remember from the recent past. It was as if the producers decided they needed one, huge battle sequence for some reason and so called in Tony Scott (Top Gun, Domino, Deja Vu), gave him some cocaine and said, "Here Tony, go to twon for these 45 seconds so we have some action in our movie." It was so blatantly out of place that I was actually taken aback and remember shaking my head in surprise. It didn't ruin anything by any means or really even detract from the film. It was just... weird and out of place and worth mentioning here.
The performances across the board were decent. Nothing exceptional stands out, but nothing was overly bad either. I think the back and forth between Costner and Hurt are easily the most enrapturing elements of Mr. Brooks, but everyone involved played their roles to adequacy and took nothing away from the film. As a side note, Moore played her typical hard edge feminist (GI Jane, Disclosure, Charlie's Angels 2) and was as attractive as ever.
For all of these reasons I had a good time with Mr. Brooks and would revisit it again someday if given the opportunity. The story was extremely engrossing. There's no real mystery to solve as we already know the answer, but it's fun to watch others try to figure out the mystery, while other characters try to cover it further. I've never been aboard the anti-Costner bandwagon and frankly, have never understood it either. I can name probably ten of his films, just off the top of my head, that are superb and several of them very much because of him. Brooks is no different. Though certainly not an Oscar-worthy performance or film (though I would say Hurt has about a 15% chance of being nominated for a supporting role), it's still a strong role that Costner has obviously taken great care to construct. I'm sure that at least within the never-ending sea of three-quels and special effects bonanzas that are so prevalent this time of year, Mr Brooks stands out as one of the better films of the summer.
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
FLIXSTER PROFILE for Mr. Brooks