© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
MR. BROOKS opens with a man reciting the
"Serenity Prayer" so famous among addicts.
Most people will probably recognize Kevin
Costner as the one reciting the verse and the
first shot of the film shows him in a rest room
just before he has to go on stage and accept
the local Chamber of Commerce's Man of the
Year Award. On the drive home with his
supportive spouse (Marg Helgenberger), he
begins to have a craving. You see, Costner's
Earl Brooks isn't just any sort of addict, he's a
serial killer and his addiction is to the thrill of
the murder. After dropping his wife off at home,
he goes out, breaks into the home of a couple
he spotted at a dance studio and shoots them
in fragante delicto.

Brooks soon finds out he made a crucial mistake
and that there was at least one witness to his
actions: one of the couple's neighbors who used
to photograph them while they were making
love. Calling himself "Mr. Smith" (Dane Cook),
the man shows up at Brooks' company and
blackmails him -- not for money though but for
the opportunity to accompany him on one of his
killing sprees.

The police detective in charge of the case,
Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore), has been trailing
after the man the tabloids have dubbed the
"Thumbprint Killer" for years. Now, after a
two-year hiatus, he appears to have returned to
action. Atwood also is carrying her own
baggage: the daughter of a wealthy
industrialist, she is in the middle of a very
public and messy divorce from her younger
husband (Jason Lewis). And to cap off her
troubles, another notorious serial killer she did
capture has broken out of jail (Matt Schulze)
and has vowed to kill her.

A third subplot involves the sudden decision by
Brooks' daughter Jane (Danielle Panabaker) to
drop out of college. Gradually, her secrets are
revealed and they indicate that the apple may
not fall far from the tree.

The witty and clever (if somewhat preposterous
and overplotted) screenplay was penned by
director Bruce A. Evans and his writing partner
Raynold Gideon. Evans stages the film with a
sure hand and he elicits nice work from his large

In the last few years, Costner has begun to play
roles that stretch his talents as an actor and he
has reminded audiences just how good a
performer he can be. Here, cast against type, he
does a terrific job. Brooks is slick and twisted
and tormented yet with a veneer of a decent
guy. He clearly loves his family yet cannot seem
to overcome his addiction. (The filmmakers have
interestingly left the door open for a sequel or

I never thought I'd ever say this, but Demi
Moore gives a good performance as the
detective, and there's fine supporting work from
Lindsay Crouse as a police captain, Ruben
Santiago-Hudson as another detective, Dane
Cook as the blackmailer, and Danielle Panabaker
as Brooks' secretive daughter.

William Hurt is on hand and I hesitate to
describe his role in the film as it could be
something of a spoiler. Let's just say that this
reunion between Hurt and Costner (who worked
together in cut footage from
nicely handled and that Hurt adds a great deal
of delicious wit and vitality to the proceedings.

MR. BROOKS also has a very atmospheric
musical score by Ramin Djawadi, terrific
cinematography by John Lindley and superb
production design by Jeffrey Beecroft.

Overall, this is an enjoyable romp -- with some
pitch black comic moments and a fascinating
figure at its center.

Rating:                B
MPAA Rating:     R for strong bloody
                       violence, some graphic
                       sexual content, nudity
                       and language
Running time:   120 mins.

    Viewed at Magno Review One
Earl Brooks in
Photo by Ben Glass
© 2007 Element Funding, LLC. All Rights Reserved.