2007 - United States - 120 minutes
Writers - Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon
Director - Bruce A. Evans
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars
In the DVD special features of Mr. Brooks, the authors talk about their decision to write a screenplay that differs for others they have written and their process of expanding from the seed of an idea. At no time do they mention Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They should have because their very enjoyable movie is basically another version of Stevenson's tale.
Earl Brooks, on the surface, is a very good man. He has a loving wife and daughter and is noted for his charitable works - so much so that he has been honored with the local Man of the Year award. There is one "minor" flaw - he happens to be a blood thirsty serial killer. He doesn't really like being a murderer and attends Twelve-Step meetings in order to stave off his thirst for killing. All the while, his subconscious unmercifully nags him to give in to his evil yearnings. Mr. Brooks is not strong enough to resist and proceeds to murder a beautiful young couple he has seen dancing at a studio.
Mr. Brooks is a careful man who plans every step of his crimes, but the latest is witnessed and photographed by "Mr. Smith" who lives across the way from the unlucky couple. Mr. Smith proceeds to blackmail Mr. Brooks but not for money. It seems that Mr. Smith wants to commit murder and wants an expert to show him how it is done.
The investigation of the murder of the couple is being led by Detective Tracy Atwood who has quite a lot of baggage of her own. Her net value is sixty million dollars, yet she works as a police detective. She is in the midst of divorcing her second husband - who, like the first, married her for her money - and all is not going well. Tracy Atwood is not your run-of-the-mill cop.
That's about all I can say about the storyline of this film without spoiling a number of the elements of the plot. It is quirky and far-fetched - at times comedic - but very entertaining in a "let's sit back and watch some mindless fun" sort of way.
In addition to the quirky script and fine production values, Mr. Brooks is made especially entertaining by the excellent acting.
Kevin Costner plays the lead role and is perfect for the part. He has the persona of an everyday good guy, but also has the acting skills to convince the viewer that he really could murder in cold blood and really enjoy doing so.
Brooks's Mr. Hyde subconscious - named Marshall - is personified in this film by William Hurt, and he gives a wonderfully witty performance. I am reminded of the old cartoons I used to see as a child in which the character would have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. Hurt is the perfect devil on the shoulder.
Mr. Smith is played by comedian Dane Cook. Smith is an amoral young man who wishes to murder simply for the trill of the kill. He has no redeeming value. Cook does a very good job of showing us such a man whose type seems to be flourishing in our modern society.
And then there is Detective Tracy Atwood who appears to be constantly wired and ready for action. Demi Moore is hot, sexy, and full of energy - the ideal Atwood.
As I said, this movie is lots of fun. I think that old Robert Louis is probably smiling rather than spinning in his grave.
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