Kevin Costner acting in the same film with Dane Cook. William Hurt portraying the alternate personality of Costner's character. These are things I never thought I'd see in a movie, and like "Mr. Brooks" or not, the movie at least provides a few unexpected elements, such as these. "Brooks" stars Kevin Costner as Earl Brooks, who has just been named Portland's Man of the Year. Earl has a nice wife (Marg Helgenberger), a fantastic job (well, it's a box company, but we're told he does really well) and a daughter named Jane (Danielle Panabaker).
Earl Brooks seems to have it all. However, what no one - even his family - knows is that he is also a killer. Driven by an alternate personality named Marshall (played by Hurt) to commit crimes, police - who call him "The Thumbprint killer" - have not been able to catch him. After keeping Marshall in check for a couple of years, he pushes him to commit another crime.
However, this time Mr. Smith (a rather impressively creepy Dane Cook) has caught Brooks in the act, photographing him through an open window. However, he doesn't want money to keep quiet - he wants Brooks to teach him. Meanwhile, a soon-to-be-divorced detective named Tracey Atwood (Demi Moore) who couldn't catch the Thumbprint killer finds a new crime scene and vows to catch him this time around.
"Mr. Brooks" opened last Summer, despite the fact that it's more of a March or October movie. The picture did manage to make a bit more than its surprisingly small budget (a reported $20m), but otherwise it faded from theatres fairly quickly. I'm not a fan of the genre and had little in the way of expectations for the film, but found myself surprised by it.
Director and co-writer Bruce Evans (whose only other directorial credit is 1992's "Kuffs") has crafted a cool, eerie little thriller, with sleek cinematography by John Lindley and a strong, moody score by Ramin Djawadi. The film offers some twists and surprises, as well, aside from the fact that Dane Cook co-stars with Kevin Costner.
As for the performances, I wasn't sure Costner would be able to pull off the character, but he really offers a surprisingly good effort as an everyguy who seems to have everything and a calm, crisp surface and yet - is deeply troubled underneath. Hurt gives an expert performance as Earl's far darker side, and Hurt and Costner play off each other quite well. Even Cook - in a twisted role - plays off Costner better than I'd expected. Moore does a fine job playing a tough cop (like her or not, it's hard to deny she plays badass well), but a couple of plot threads for her character don't go anywhere too quickly and the character is a bit too "standard" for my liking. Helgenberger's the other concern, as her character is really underdeveloped.
There are some absurd moments and some aspects that could have been filled out a little, but the unusual "Mr. Brooks" was an often tense little drama/thriller with some solid performances.
VIDEO: "Mr. Brooks" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The screening copy of the film that was provided offered very good image quality, with fine sharpness/detail and only a little bit of shimmering. However, this is still not the final copy and unfortunately, I cannot make any final comments on it, as the final copy may offer differing image quality.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation did have some moments where the surrounds were used to open out the audio a bit, but the majority of the film remained dialogue-driven. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and well-recorded effects.
EXTRAS: Co-writer/director Bruce Evans and co-writer/producer Raynold Gideon offer up an audio commentary for the feature. The commentary is actually quite good, as the two immediately launch into an interesting discussion of trying to piece the film together, from casting to the script to working with a low budget.
We also get 6 deleted scenes (no commentary) and three short featurettes that all come in a bit under 10 minutes: "The Birth of a Serial Killer: The Writing of Mr. Brooks", "On the Set of Mr. Brooks" and "Murder on Their Minds: Marshall, Mr. Smith and Mr. Brooks". We also get the trailer for the film and trailers for other titles from Fox/MGM.
Final Thoughts: I didn't expect much from "Mr. Brooks", but Costner and Hurt are superb together and the movie offered some surprises and twists. Aspects didn't work as well (such as the subplots for the Moore character), but the movie remained an engaging, moody little thriller.
The Film B-