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‘Mr. Brooks’ *** Movie Review 110107
The Work = ***
Consider the case of poor Mr. Brooks (Kevin Costner). He’s a pull yourself up by your boot straps sort of guy. He’s a self made success and family man that is bordering on retirement. All that seems to keep him working as the head of his company is he hasn’t been offered enough cash to sell. He is also a serial killer.
I say “poor Mr. Brooks” because the film ‘Mr. Brooks’ treats its titled character’s homicidal streak as an addiction. He has hid it from his family and now that his daughter is off to college he goes to “AA” meetings and stays straight. That is until one day his imaginary personality, Marshall (William Hurt,) talks him into drifting back to his criminal ways.
It is bad enough to relapse when you are trying to stay sober but there are more troubles ahead for Mr. Brooks. His daughter arrives home and announces college is not for her and she is going to drop out. She is also not being entirely truthful about her reasons for dropping out. Things get even more problematic when Mr. Smith (Dane Cook) shows up with his own sleazy plans. What is a loving, wealthy, father who seems to have everything going for him but is really hiding a dark secret, to do?
At the core of the film ‘Mr. Brooks’ is a tale of addiction and how it can remain hidden, even within a family. Just because it is not talked about does not mean addiction won’t be passed from parent to child. This family-struggle with addiction is somewhat unique to the film and helps it sail past weaker, more formulaic, moments. The cast is uniformly solid and often seem to have fun working together (especially Costner and Hurt). Cook shows he can build a real character as the slimy Mr. Smith and makes a memorable performance out of one that could have easily been forgettable.
For his part, Costner is solid as Mr. Brooks. He plays it as a man that is aware of what he is but seems a bit in denial as to exactly how to treat it. Costner has won acclaim, such as when he won an Oscar for his film ‘Dances with Wolves’, and has also been behind not so successful films such as ‘The Postman’. Even when the films don’t entirely work, he often does. (He was great in ‘3000 Miles to Graceland’ even though the movie was not.). So he has gotten the kudos and taken the pans but I wonder if he will ever get the credit he deserves for making and starring in something like the maddeningly underrated ‘Open Range’.
In the end ‘Mr. Brooks’ worked while I was watching it but did not quite come together as it could have. The ending seemed false somehow and many of the more common scenes that often come in serial killer films felt weak. Those sequences largely involved Detective Atwood (Demi Moore). You know you are in trouble when there is a shootout between individuals 15 feet apart and they take the time to shoot the lights out. Some scenes (like a sort of car chase) did work but for the most part they felt like distractions from the real story of Mr. Brooks and his family.I think those open to a sort of quirky crime drama might enjoy ‘Mr. Brooks’. Fans of the cast will probably like the film as well. For me it was enjoyable but not something I will re-watch soon. Recommend for fans of the cast or the genre. If you do happen to be a fan of Costner and/ or westerns, please, please, give ‘Open Range’ a try.
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