Mr. Brooks

I played hookie from Cinevegas yesterday afternoon by sneaking into a regular-ass commercial screening of Mr. Brooks, the Kevin Costner murder thriller that has managed a mere 55% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


William Hurt, Kevin Costner in Mr. Brooks

I agree with the naysaying 45% that director and co-writer Bruce A. Evans has succumbed to overly dense plotting, and that he totally blows it at the very end (I instantly got up and walked when the “final thing” happens), but I never wanted to leave before that. Mr. Brooks is compulsively watchable, and more enjoyable than I expected. Plus it features Costner’s most intriguing performance since Open Range, and it delivers another exquisite supporting turn by William Hurt, who can do no wrong these days.
Set in Portland, Oregon, it’s about a multi-millonaire named Earl Brooks has a secret addiction to murder. Like a guy with a latent drinking problem who can’t stick to sobriety, every so often Brooks falls off the wagon and goes out and claims a victim, feeling immensely satisfied during the act but reverting into a total guilt mode in the aftermath.
Hurt plays Marshall, his alter ego. Marshall is the madness but also the brains of the operation — the guy who lusts for the thrill of of it all but is also very smart in figuring how not to get pinched. The scenes between Costner and Hurt are worth the price of admission alone — relaxed, subtle, assured, even comforting. That sounds a bit weird, I realize, but it’s nice to have a shrewd partner in life who grins a lot and enjoys a good verbal spar.
New Yorker critic David Denby says it beautifully in his review: “Marshall is a roguish wit, seductive and amused, who knows that he√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s being unreasonable but presses his needs anyway. Once satisfied, he becomes the ultimate kibbitzer. Tucking in his jaw and alternating irony, sarcasm, and mockery, Hurt hits one spinning serve after another, and Costner hits them right back at him. The two have a fine time, as if they had been doing this routine for years.”
For my money (even though I didn’t pay), Mr. Brooks is a nicely absorbing, easygoing piece of high-toned junk, and yet it never put me through any kind of pain. Until the end, that is, and, like I said, I didn’t even deal with it. I just bolted. I don’t want to deal with it now. It’s not worthy of my attention.
The secondary characters are a bit of a problem — an angry grungy creep (Dane Cook) who blackmails Brooks into being taken along on his next killing, and an angry glaring detective (Demi Moore) who’s determined to identify and bust the “thumbprint killer” (i.e. Brooks). They’re both bothersome because their obsessive behavior is snippy and unlikable. I was hoping that both would be killed, and in this respect I was only half-satisfied at the end.
A third supporting character, Brooks√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s college-age daughter (Danielle Panabaker), could have been dropped altogether and the film would’ve been fine. She doesn’t do anything except tease and frustrate.

12 thoughts on “Mr. Brooks

  1. This movie could have been a hell of a lot better. I don’t think anyone can say that the stuff between Hurt and Costner is unsatisfying. But everything else sure is.
    But I don’t know, the very ending wasn’t that bad in my opinion. What’s (possibly) happened to his daughter is intriguing, and even though Evans uses a cheap trick their at the end, it gets the point across. If other subplots would have been dropped or replaced with better ones and leaving just the over the top daughter situation in the background I feel it would have been better.

  2. Gee, it’s almost like actors get better as the years go by, and if you wrote parts for 40, 50 and 60 year olds, you might get very assured and satisfying movies of a high professional caliber from time to time.

  3. I love what Costner and Hurt are doing now in their careers. Both are sly and intriguing and far more interesting when they play to their strengths, which they’re doing in spades here. But the movie suffered most when it concentrated on Demi Moore’s unsympathetic detective–why did she marry that jerk in the first place? Was it his good looks and youth (kind of a play on her real life deal)? And the deal with the other serial killer seemed tacked on and clumsily executed. The whole subplot with the daughter was pretty far fetched while the Mr. Smith angle was interesting. It just needed to be developed in a less obvious manner. I’d have to concur that the movie was more entertaining junk than anything, and yet it was decidedly fun for the most part.

  4. I understand parsing the good and bad of a film, but as far as recommendations go, the fact that you walked out before the movie was even over indicates to me that I should put zero effort into going out of my way to ever see this. I don’t care how good the rest of it was.

  5. I don’t know Darth, it’s all about how it plays out on balance in comparison to your expectations. I only skimmed Jeff’s review because I still might see the movie (almost checked it out today after Ocean’s 13 and Knocked Up), but two solid performances by Costner and Hurt is at least worth a matinee price unless the rest of the movie is so awful. The main thing keeping me away is Demi Moore and Dane Cook at this point.

  6. Gee, it’s almost like actors get better as the years go by, and if you wrote parts for 40, 50 and 60 year olds, you might get very assured and satisfying movies of a high professional caliber from time to time.

  7. Wait a minute. Hold up.
    SPOILER WARNING!
    If Wells walked out during the supposed TWIST, then he missed the fact the final episode with the daughter was only a dream.
    Or — was he pissed that that episode was, in fact, a dream and not the final ending?
    Either way, I enjoyed Mr. Brooks with the exception of the silly Demi Moore subplot involving the other killer.
    It’s great to have Hurt back in action.

  8. I don’t know Darth, it’s all about how it plays out on balance in comparison to your expectations. I only skimmed Jeff’s review because I still might see the movie (almost checked it out today after Ocean’s 13 and Knocked Up), but two solid performances by Costner and Hurt is at least worth a matinee price unless the rest of the movie is so awful. The main thing keeping me away is Demi Moore and Dane Cook at this point.

  9. Yeah, um… Jeff? If I’m reading you correctly, that “final thing” you walked out because of ISN’T the final thing that happens in the movie. Oops.

  10. Jeff-If you really just bolted right at that particular moment and didn’t stay until the credits…well, that’s really fucking funny.

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