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Mr. Brooks (Bruce A. Evans)

Mr. Brooks (Bruce A. Evans)

Addiction can wreak havoc with our lives. It caused me to make a stop at King Soopers on the way home from the movie to get my cereal fix: Kashi Vive, soy milk and frozen berries. Laughably tame and lame compared to an addiction to murder, and done with no intent of being ironic.


Almost as laughable is going to AA meetings in order to tame one’s addiction to taking other people’s lives on a regular basis, but that is what torments Kevin Costner’s character in “Mr. Brooks,” a serial murderer and man-about-town, Earl Brooks. But logic is overshadowed by his desperate attempts to rid himself of the need to kill, that he’ll go to any measure, including repeating the Act of Contrition at times when he feels weak.

At the beginning of the film you see Brooks at an award dinner held in his honor as man of the year by the city of Portland. He’s a successful business man, philanthropist, husband and father. A true man of the community, who just happens to have another man that he’s name Marshall on his back, the sinister voice in his head, played perfectly by William Hurt.

But all the prayers and “hi my name is” meetings just don’t cut it after a while. Marshall’s strength overshadows it all attempts at being “normal,” breaking Brook’s two year hiatus as the Thumbprint Killer. With precision and attention to detail, very similar to the Patrick Bateman character in American Psycho, he leaves no trace of his doings…until one night where he slips on one of his concrete rules.

With as much passion and persistence, detective Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore), follows a hunch with the little evidence she can find. This leads her to Dane Cook as Mr. Smith, a potential witness to one of Brook’s murders.

Cook plays a good slimy guy in his first serious role (or first actual role…did anyone see that Sam’s Club movie he was in? What the hell…), using his comedic side only when the script called for it, and in those cases, the joke was on him. A mechanical engineer by day, Smith hungers for more exciting adventures. So he plays the witness card to finagle his way into Brooks’ game.

On the other hand, Atwood’s going-through-a-nasty-divorce story seems to be thrown in for good measure in the “and we care because…” category, with the exception of how Brooks uses her personal circumstances and history to orchestrate his next series of murders. There were some eye-candy occassions when her ex appeared, played by Jason Lewis. As usual, he’s just the same pretty face he was in Sex and the City (Smith Jerod), and is best seen in a no-speaking role, stretched out in his Calvin Klein Ys for all to see in Times Square.

While Brooks performs his craft at night, his daytime reality intrudes as he deals with his daughter’s (Danielle Panabaker) sins. In his typical fashion, he cleans up her messes with a fear that someday his actions will come back to haunt him.

All the while, Marshall is not only the part of Brooks that pays attention to detail and gathers the facts; he acts as the shoulder to cry on during times when a typical person would turn to their best friend for comfort, not their alter ego. But with no one else to turn to, what’s a guy to do? Camera works is use to create a fluidity between Brooks and Marshall, in subtle ways that are effective in their connected-at-dthe-hip presence.

Written by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon, and directed by Evans, the movie excels at toying with one’s emotions from beginning to end. First you’re holding your breath and curled up in your seat, and then you’re laughing at the dark, sadistic humor written in sparingly, and then you’re jerked back with heart beating surprises (which at times also caused the audience to laugh, albeit nervously).

Hurt did his sly act, which is not a stretch for him, but one he plays so very, very well. I’ve never been a big fan of Costner, especially when I think of him in Robin Hood (a Robin Hood without a British accent? Who’s idea was that?), but he did this movie well with his performance, as did Cook.

As I left the theater I heard one girl say she couldn’t watch the end. Yes, there were a number of “watching in between your fingers that are covering your face” moments. But for God’s sakes, just keep the fingers spread out until the credits roll, k?


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