Now back to that fatal flaw......

Mr. Brooks

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

            Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, and Mr. Brooks. In a film with a fatal flaw, Kevin Costner plays Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner), Portland’s Chamber of Commerce “Man of the Year.” There are indeed three Earl Brooks. One is the civic minded head of a box factory who is a respected man in the tapestry of Portland’s business landscape and fine husband and father to his wife Emma ((Marg Helgenberger) and college age daughter Jane (Danielle Panabaker); one is the quiet man with a mind of sharp steel that makes him a brilliant planner who would be a credible success in innovation; but the third Mr. Brooks is not that; he is a serial killer.

            Neither Mr. Brooks’ family nor his colleagues have any idea that he has murdered a series of couples making love, rearranged their bodies in sexual positions, and planted one bloody thumbprint of each victim at the scene. He is the infamous “Thumbprint Killer.” He and his alter ego Marshall (William Hurt) are at odds because Brooks is ready to stop killing and Marshall keeps prodding him with “Aw come on, you know you love it.” In a move of questionable taste, Brooks has joined Alcoholics Anonymous, going to meetings to introduce himself as “I’m Earl Brooks and I’m an addict.” If he can talk Marshall down, he will use AA to check his addiction to killing.

            But he can’t talk Marshall down. With detective Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore) on his trail, Brooks deals with a blackmailer named Mr. Smith (Dane Cook) and continues his murderous march through private bedrooms. There is only one aspect of this movie that is interesting, and that is the working of Brooks’ mind. Whatever comes up, he is able instantly to adapt mentally to the new challenge. He’s creepily smart. The interplay between Kevin Costner and William Hurt is a terrific duet - same type, same size, same quiet demeanor – a functioning man with a broken conscience. Costner and Hurt – two sides of the mind of one, are excellent. The movie would not have suffered without Demi Moore. She is an expressionless, cold player with a silly sub-plot designed to showcase her toughness.

            Now back to that fatal flaw. At one point, Brooks says to his now co-conspirator, Mr. Smith, “We drive around until we see someone we would enjoy killing.” That’s the motivation in this movie, and when Brooks kills, he writhes on screen in orgasmic pleasure. The movie is fueled by cruelty and sadism. Dropped into a culture already riddled with wanton killing (20 Chicago students killed last month, the massacre at Virginia Tech), it invites copycats. What’s this year’s joy ride? Try killing. The fact that the filmmakers didn’t consider giving Costner and Hurt a challenge other than the sick thrill of murder is outrageous. They could have built a thriller around their brilliance with any number of contemporary challenges. Why pick the one that is already shredding the fabric of our society?

Copyright (c) Illusion

Return to Ellis Home Page