Friday, July 29, 2011

Mr. Brooks: Costner-Cook combo delayed worthwhile viewing

Since its 2007 release, people have been telling me that I had to watch "Mr. Brooks," the Kevin Costner-starring thriller.

Well, I finally did.

Here's the thing: I don't like Kevin Costner. Yes, "Dances with Wolves" is a triumph of American cinema. I greatly enjoy Costner's three baseball movies--"Bull Durham," "Field of Dreams" and "For the Love of the Game," which was directed by Sam Raimi-- and even laughed at "Tin Cup." But I don't like Costner. I don't hate him as much as I dislike Richard Gere or Julia Roberts. I dislike Costner less than I dislike Martin Lawrence. The thing that kept me from watching "Mr. Brooks" is that I also loathe Dane Cook.

So, yeah, I'm a bit pissed off that I liked "Mr. Brooks."

A quick plot synopsis: Costner is well-to-do Mr. Brooks, a respected businessman who just happens to be a serial killer. William Hurt plays his alter ego, the voice that tells him to kill. Cook plays Mr. Smith, an amateur photographer who catches Brooks in the act. There are some other subplots, some superfluous, some not, but at this point they aren't important.

What matters now is how Costner and Hurt work together to bring to life this man with a deep, dark secret. As Brooks tells Smith late in the film, "Before I was the Thumbprint Killer, Mr. Smith, I killed a lot of people in a lot of different ways."

The movie belongs to a tradition of split-personality films such as "Raising Cain" and "Secret Window." The biggest difference is that in "Mr. Brooks," the personality is so fragmented that the other voice is played by a completely different person. It would have been easy for writers Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon to have one actor portray Brooks and Marshall, his dark side. Instead, they cast Hurt, an often underrated actor to play second fiddle to Costner. Brooks does all the dirty work while Marshall stands back and watches. It's a brilliant effect in what otherwise would have been a throw-away movie.

Cook does his job as Mr. Smith. He's a creepster douchebag who tries to blackmail Brooks into letting him watch the next murder. Douchebags rarely come out as the winner in films such as "Mr. Brooks."

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Threat level: YELLOW. I waited for this long to see, it won't hurt you if you don't rush right out to watch it. But when you do, it's worth it. I feel dirty saying that. (For an explanation of our ratings system, check out our Warning Systems page.)

"Mr. Brooks" is rated R and stars Kevin Costner, Dane Cook, Demi Moore, William Hurt, and Marg Helgenberger. Directed and co-written by Bruce A. Evans with co-writer Raynold Gideon.

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