Theatrical Review: Mr. Brooks

Earl Brooks is for all accounts and purposes, the embodiment of the American success story, he’s got a loving wife, a daughter who he’s proud of in college, and he’s the owner of a successful business, and at the start of our story, Earl Brooks is being named Business Man of the Year. Earl Brooks has his demon though and it’s an addiction, an addiction to killing people and Earl has kept that addiction under control for two years. But in the wake of his successful night, his demon comes back out, tempting him as a way at saying “you deserve this- have some fun tonight” in a manifestation that only Earl can see named Marshall. And Earl finds his next victims, and begins to plan to have his fun… and from there, things begin to build and in some interesting ways…

Wow… I gotta say, I never saw this one coming. The promotion for it had been sparse, almost coming out of nowhere over the last two weeks, and for a movie that stars Kevin Costner, well that’s saying something. This almost seems more like an independent film rather than a big-ass studio production, and that’s one of the things that’s very cool about this great little movie called Mr. Brooks.

Costner’s the star, no doubt about it, and this is from his production company, TIG Productions, and it’s without a doubt one of the more interesting and engrossing serial killer movies that I’ve seen in awhile. This is directed by a man named Bruce Evans, who I’m not really that familiar with, and it really looks great and tells it’s story without getting overly flashy. If there’s any one movie that I can say that this comes closest to putting me in the mind of, it’s a classic serial killer movie that doesn’t get seen that often any more called The Stepfather that stars Lost’s Terry O’Quinn, and me saying that is a high compliment.

Some have criticized this movie for having too much in it, developing a couple of other subplots that they said was almost like having three movies in one. Well, I didn’t see it that way- Earl Brooks is shown as a complex man, and his life is equally complex. These other things happen, but it all gets tied together in a satisfying way for me anyway.

Costner is absolutely terrific in this movie. He exercises a few muscles here that he hasn’t used in awhile and he’s clearly enjoying himself, especially when he’s having his conversations with Marshall, who’s played with some great gusto from William Hurt. Costner and Hurt have some terrific chemistry here, and it’s always fun when they’re on-screen together. Demi Moore is in the film, playing Detective Atwood, and she looks great and plays the part with some real lived-in smarts. Comedian Dane Cook is also in the film, playing a young man who’s discovered what Brooks does and wants to experience the rush first hand by blackmailing Brooks. He does a fine job here being an annoying character but not to the point that the audience is annoyed with him. All in all, Costner and company have assembled a fine cast for the film.

In this summer of sequels, movies like Bug and Mr. Brooks are a breath of fresh air. I know over the next two weeks, I’m going to be seeing four more movies, all sequels (Hostel Part 2, Ocean’s 13, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Daywatch) and I can only hope that some of them approach being just as good as what Mr. Brooks is. Good stuff here and very much recommended…

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

05. June 2007 by Darren Goodhart
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