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I don't expect too much of Hollywood thrillers these days. They're too formulaic, too predictable, too tame, too Ashley Juddy and Morgan Freemany. Every time I watch one, it feels like I've already seen it. They have the same plots, the same twists, the same cops and bad guys. But I love the genre, so I keep going back.

I'd read a couple of good things about
Mr. Brooks, but really didn't expect much from Mr. America 1988 aka Kevin Costner, the botoxed Demi Moore and pseudo-comedian turned hack-actor Dane Cook. Maybe it was my low expectations, but I thoroughly enjoyed this film. For a modern Hollywood thriller to keep me engaged, not ask me to switch my brain off every 3 minutes, and actually still make sense by the last twist; it's a minor miracle.

What worked best for me about this film was William Hurt playing Mr. Brooks evil-conscience. He sits in the back seat of the car, suggesting nasty things for them to do. Costner's Brooks wants to be a good upstanding man, and when we first meet him, he's receiving Man of the Year honors from the Portland Chamber of Commerce. He's a good husband and father, a successful business, and has been able to curb his murderous tendencies for the past few years. But apparently Hurt's Brooks has had his eye on a particular victim, the old urges win out, and the serial-murder known as the Finger Print Killer goes back to work. He's a little rusty though, and kills a young couple in front of a wide open window.

His sloppiness soon comes to haunt him in the form of Dane Cook's Mr. Smith, who blackmails Brooks with some photographs of the murder scene. But Smith doesn't want money, he wants a taste of murder and forces Brooks to take him out with him on his next kill. This is really the meat of the film, I love how Brooks takes Smith under his twisted wing and shows him how a professional serial killer works, all the while playing a sadistic cat and mouse game. Writer/Director Bruce Evans even manages to get a decent performance out of Cook. He has an important role, and if his Mr. Smith doesn't work, the film fails. There's also a decent subplot about Brooks' daughter possibly being a serial killer herself. The weakest link is Demi Moore's on-the-edge detective. (Is there any other kind?) She's not that bad, just cliche'd, and there's a fairly useless storyline about her bastard ex-husband, that slows down the film.

Overall the film really works; it's well made, nicely shot and edited, and competently directed and acted. Most importantly the screenplay works, it doesn't dumb things down, or have twists that come out of nowhere to ruin the film. William Hurt and Kevin Costner are great together as the two sides of Brooks' ego. Mr. Brooks is the rare, modern Hollywood thriller that doesn't make you feel stupider for watching. - Grade: B (Seen on 7/3/08)

1 Response to Mr. Brooks:

  1. Wow, I can't believe that Mr. Brooks could actually earn a B-rating. That's inspiring. There was no way in hell that I was gonna give Mr. Brooks a chance but now there is. Haha. Thanks for taking the potential bullet with this one.