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Mr. Brooks is Sickly Brilliant

Published June 3, 2007 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of MGM.
Mr. Brooks Mr. Brooks
I'm really starting to believe in The Secret. I've been using it to make 2007 the best year for movies ever and the universe is obliging. Mr. Brooks is the best serial killer thriller since Saw. Imagine Training Day for Hannibal Lecter. That's definitely sickly brilliant and twistedly clever.

Movie Review: Mr. Brooks


Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner) is a successful businessman and serial killer. His imaginary friend (William Hurt) helps talk him through his calculated crimes, but when he kills a couple in front of an open window, a voyeur (Dane Cook) blackmails him into teaching him the ropes of the craft. Meanwhile, a detective (Demi Moore) follows his trail.

This is the most personality Kevin Costner has ever had, and I mean that with all loving respect. The great thing about Costner has been his likeability despite inability to do accents. Here, he gets to play several personalities, from cool and calculated to totally F'ed up. It is the Oscar-worthy performance of Costner's career.

He's different with his imaginary friend, with his student and with his family. Relaxed in his own head, unreadable as a mentor and the absolute perfect dad, what more could an actor play? It's even got the disability card if you call it split personalities, but it doesn't pander that way.

Preparations and methods are always cool. He's meticulous. His moves are subtle but more gripping than the more bombastic movie killers. Rechaining the door after breaking into someone's apartment is badass. In the same way, he knows how to parent as well as he knows how to kill. The ability to catch oneself from using provocative words and rephrase in the most constructive way is a downright super power.



The film weaves seamlessly in and out of the fantasy device. He speaks with William Hurt in the middle of scenes but we know that that's just interior and no one else hears it. But he can turn right back to the real world conversation and neither the characters nor the audience miss a beat.

It's also the most wickedly dark comedy since American Beauty. Yeah, that's going way back. Playing on situations anyone can relate to, like getting cut off on the freeway, and making fun of novice killer mistakes is acting like this is a reasonable world. That's how you do dark comedy. Don't apologize. Explore it.

The joy of all of this is that it's perfectly safe for the audience. It's no one we know getting hurt in the film. In fact they're not even real people. It's a movie.

Moore gets a good character too. She's a good cop with her work cut out for her. In addition to Brooks' lack of telltale clues, she's dealing with an escaped stalker and an A-hole ex. Action scenes in her world are exciting and well staged so they remain reality-based but aren't derivative of other generic action scenes.

Once again, some passionate filmmakers came out of nowhere with a completely original and gripping piece of storytelling. I've actually liked some of Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon's previous credits but it's clear Hollywood put them in a corner. There could be no greater revenge than putting out a masterpiece.
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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of MGM.
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