Sunday, February 22, 2009

Movie Review: Mr. Brooks (2007)

Mr. Brooks
Serial killer flick MR. BROOKS starring Kevin Costner and Dane CookWritten by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon
Directed by Bruce A. Evans

Kevin Costner...Mr. Earl Brooks
Demi Moore...Det. Tracy Atwood
Dane Cook...Mr. Smith
William Hurt...Marshall
Marg Helgenberger...Emma Brooks
Danielle Panabaker...Jane Brooks

Mr. Brooks is a good old-fashioned American. He wears a bow tie, he's the president of a cardboard box company, and he's just been voted Man of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce. But underneath this kind, family-oriented exterior, lurks something much darker: the man known as the Thumbprint Killer.

Thumbprint has been out of the murdering biz for two years now, attempting to stave off his hunger through 12-step programs and lots of prayer. But egged on by his imaginary friend/alter ego, he breaks his bloodless stint and does in a couple in his trademark meticulous way.

With thumbprint out of retirement, Detective Tracy Atwood renews her vow to capture him. As if this weren't enough for him to worry about, some voyeuristic young punk identifying himself as Mr. Smith has figured out who he is, and is blackmailing Mr. Brooks to take him along on his next job. Throw in Detective Atwood's ex-husband, who is suing her for the family fortune, another serial killer who is on the lam, and Mr. Brooks' daughter who pops into town with a few surprises of her own, and you've got yourself an excellent, multi-layered thriller that didn't receive the box office audience that it deserved.

The whole alter ego gimmick works much better here than in other films (Raising Cain), perhaps because the director isn't trying to trick us into thinking that he is a real and distinct person. And, believe it or not, Dane Cook does a pretty decent (and thankfully restrained) portrayal of Mr. Smith. He's still Dane Cook...just dialed way, way down. There's so many characters and subplots flying around here that it easily could have been bogged down by its own weight, but the filmmakers did an admirable job of making it a cohesive whole. Anything I found to really dislike about this film would just be nitpicking. It deserves a home in your collection, sandwiched between Silence of the Lambs and Se7en...which means it is a huge step up from Evan's former output, which includes Jungle 2 Jungle and Christian Slater's Kuffs.

Rated R
120 Minutes


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