*1/2 (out of 5)
June 1, 2007
Kevin Costner as EARL BROOKS
Demi Moore as DETECTIVE TRACY ATWOOD
Dane Cook as MR. SMITH
William Hurt as MARSHALL
Marg Helgenberger as EMMA BROOKS
Danielle Panabaker as JANE BROOKS
Directed by: Bruce A. Evans
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
No one ever accused Kevin Costner of being a great actor. But that doesn’t stop him from trying to be one in the new thriller “Mr. Brooks.” And he tries… and tries… and tries.
But like his feeble attempt at a British accent in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” he fails as the nerdy, troubled serial killer in sheep’s clothing.
It’s not that Costner is a bad actor. He’s just a one-note actor… like a male Julia Roberts. And this just isn’t his note.
Costner plays the title character of Mr. Brooks, a pillar of the community who has a nasty compulsion to murder people. The problem is that he’s really good at it, and even better at covering his tracks. He’s fought the compulsion (personified by an inexcusably over-the-top performance from William Hurt) for years, but now it gets the better of him.
Demi Moore plays the detective that searched for him before, and she’s really ticked off that this mystery killer has come back for more. To further muddy the waters, Dane Cook plays Mr. Smith, a photographer who has evidence of Brooks’ hobby. However, instead of turning him in, Smith blackmails Brooks into taking him along for the ride and teach him the ropes of serial killing.
Ugh. I’ve seen all this before – from the witty killer to the glowering cop, from the overly introspective murderer to the cocky blackmailer. Ultimately, Cook is the down point on this movie. It’s not totally his fault. Like Hurt’s overdone performance, Cook’s serial killer wannabe is about as old as his stand-up schtick.
Look, I’m not one to dredge up the past to demonstrate a failure in the future or present, and I am perfectly aware that just because someone has made a stinker of a film before doesn’t mean their new film is bad. But I’ve seen Bruce A. Evans’ current film, and it inspired me to see what crap the guy’s done in the past.
A quick search on IMDb, and I found his tarnished resume. Sure, this is the guy who adapted Stephen King’s novella “The Body” into the 80s classic “Stand By Me.” But he’s also responsible for the scripts for “Kuffs,” “Jungle 2 Jungle” and the 1995 ultra-bomb “Cutthroat Island.” His only other directing credit: “Kuffs” with Christian Slater.
This isn’t exactly the pedigree that inspires confidence.
I am so tired of Hollywood’s inability to make a serious serial killer flick. They miss the boat every time… well, almost every time. Who are the most memorable killers in cinema history? Not the funny ones, unless you want to count Freddy Kreuger. No, they are the ones that are – pardon the pun – dead serious: Norman Bates, Hannibal Lecter and Kevin Spacey from “Se7en.”
There are some decent parts of the movie, in particular Danielle Penebaker as Brooks’ daughter who is entangled in a murder investigation of her own. Marg Helgenberger also does a fine job as Brooks’ wife. If only the film was called “Miss Brooks” or “Mrs. Brooks,” it would have been better.