Film – Mr. Brooks

Mr. Brooks

Steve Taylor-Bryant takes on Kevin Costner’s serial killer film as he gets introduced to the man known as Mr. Brooks...

I love Kevin Costner, even Waterworld is highly watchable (yes it is!) and his films tend to fall into three categories. The first, and top category, is ‘stuff worthy of all the Oscars’ and includes titles like Dances With Wolves, The Postman, The Untouchables and Field of Dreams. The second tier is stuff that may not be worthy of the highest accolades that film awards can offer but are still real gems. Titles like Tin Cup, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and A Perfect World fill this category and give you a good idea of the type of brilliance that Costner is capable of. Then there is tier three, the lower rung of this ladder and these are the films that maybe don’t tick every box but are still pretty darn good, think Wyatt Earp (sorry, Tombstone was a far superior film), Draft Day and 3 Days to Kill. So where would Mr. Brooks fit in? I hadn’t heard very much at all about the film, which is surprising given the cast and the fact it’s nine years since it was released. In fact if it hadn’t have been for the author Marc Nash recommending the film I probably wouldn’t have ever watched it as no one has ever mentioned this film to me… ever! Oh, social media imaginary friends, you have seriously let me down on this one. How dare you keep such a great film a secret from me?

Costner plays Earl Brooks, local man done good and all around nice guy that everyone, including his wife (Marg Helgenberger in a non-CSI role,) loves and adores. The successful business man has a dark secret though, he is the notorious Fingerprint Killer, a serial murderer who poses his victims and leaves a single bloody print from each at the scene. Driven by his imaginary friend/alter ego Marshall (the wonderful William Hurt,) Earl starts to get the taste for killing again after not offending for two years. Whilst at the scene of his newest kill he realises that, despite his usual meticulous planning, he has been spotted by someone, as the curtains of the couple he just shot through the head were open. This leads Mr. Brooks to be met by mechanical engineer and amateur photographer/pervert Mr. Smith (Dane Cook in possibly the only role of I’ve never switched off before the end, I mean seriously, did you get to the end of Employee of the Month? No, no you didn’t. No one did) who blackmails Mr. Brooks. Not blackmail for money though, there is no ‘pay me lots of money or I’ll release these photos I have of you,’ no, Mr. Smith wants to be a killer and wants Mr. Brooks to show him the way. Meanwhile uber-rich-because-of-daddy’s-money police detective Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore) is trying to locate the Fingerprint Killer, catch a serial killer that has just escaped and has threatened her life, and stop her soon-to-be ex-husband from taking too much in a divorce settlement. The world of Mr. Brooks also becomes quite complicated when his daughter (Danielle Panabaker) arrives home after dropping out of college and is the suspect in a brutal murder. Has she got daddy’s addiction? Mr. Brooks has to cancel the murder of a road rage that Mr. Smith has chosen to be his victim because he must now fly to California and kill another student to get his daughter off the hook. When they do finally team up for the first time, the victims they choose are Atwood’s greedy husband and his lawyer, who he is sleeping with. During the act though Mr. Smith urinates down his leg and onto the floor. Afterwards when Smith wants to kill Brooks he finds that Brooks has set him up. He destroyed all the leverage that Smith had over him, putting his personal stuff in the vicinity of the escaped felon so Atwood would catch the escapee at the same time as work out Smith is the Fingerprint Killer. Smith’s gun doesn’t work either, as Mr. Brooks has bent the firing pin, and then Mr. Brooks kills Smith with a shovel.

Mr. Brooks

This film was glorious. It was so dark and twisted, the scene involving his daughter at the end of the film surprised the hell out of me, and I found the calm and methodical Kevin Costner added a level of evil to the serial killer character not often found. Many murder films have the perpetrator’s mental health issues front and centre but they don’t normally manifest as a totally different character and William Hurt’s Marshall was vital to Costner’s Mr. Brooks without ever overpowering either performance. Panabaker was great in the few scenes she has and a world away from her character in The Flash and even Demi Moore was bearable as Detective Tracy Atwood. I also nearly gave performance of the film to Dane Cook but I can’t quite forgive him for all the other tosh he’s made me sit through and to be fair it really is Costner’s show. A definite second tier film that is right up there with A Perfect World on a performance and enjoyability level. 

Oh, and if this spoiler filled article has ruined the film for you, tough! You should have got someone to tell me about this wonderful film and not make me wait nine years. The spoilers are your punishment for not knowing something and giving me a head ups.

Image - IMDb.