Kevin Costner suffers from the Denzel Washington good-guy syndrome. Throughout his career he’s been cast as the morally upright individual who audience have come to expect and grown to love. Much like Washington in “Training Day,” Costner takes a creative detour down an evil path in the thriller, “Mr. Brooks.”
Costner plays Earl Brooks who at the film’s onset is being honored as Portland, Oregon’s “Man of the Year.” Brooks has a beautiful wife, Emma (Marg Helgenberger), a successful daughter away in school and he is the CEO of one Portland’s largest businesses; he is the epitome of success.
But the deceptive Brooks is only showing us a part of who he really is. By night, Brooks and his murderous alter-ego, Marshall (William Hurt) cruise the streets looking for lambs to slaughter. Brooks meticulously demonstrates his thirst to kill slaying two lovers at the beginning of the story. Quietly walking in on the two during a love episode, Brooks stalks his prey before coolly and calmly shooting both and then rearranging their bodies in a provocative position. Their murders send the sick serial killer into a state of orgasmic bliss.
Unfortunately for Mr. Brooks, there is an eyewitness to this latest murder in the form of amateur photographer, Mr. Smith (Dane Cook). But instead of turning him in to the authorities, he attempts to blackmail Brooks under the condition that he be allowed to participate in his next murder.
Investigating the murder is Detective Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore), who is also in the middle of a nasty divorce with a gold-digger. Atwood seeks to settle with her loser ex, but he won’t settle for less than anything less than $1.5 million and is using Atwood’s desperation to stay off desk duty as added motivation to get her to meet his demands.
Atwood is familiar with Brook’s murder’s but he’s much too smart for her to catch. Brooks tries mightily to control his murderous urges, even attending AA classes for moral support. Through it all, his man Marshall stays in his ear telling him that he’s the man and even assisting in planning subsequent murders.
In order for this film to work, the leads had to play their roles over the top and they do. Costner and Hurt are
deliciously devilish as killer and accomplice. Where the film goes wrong is the ridiculous subplot with Cook. Why in Hades would someone seek to blackmail a serial killer? If you make a deal with the devil, would you be surprised if he double-crossed you?
Mr. Brooks is a great idea that ultimately is undermined by a bad script. Costner channels his inner rage with mostly positive results only to demonstrate what Washington learned after “Training Day” – we love our good guys to have an evil edge.