Mr Brooks Review

For a film about a man with a split personality it seems apt that the story has one too. Kevin Costner plays the eponymous Mr Brooks; a happily married family man, loving father and successful businessman who just so happens to be a ruthless serial killer. Known as the Thumbprint Killer, he has been out of murderous action for two years when we join his story, but his alter ego, Marshall, played by William Hurt is egging him on to kill again. It’s a clever ploy to have Marshall made flesh and blood in the film, and an even better one to have him played by Hurt as an oily, fun loving, blackly comic creation. Marshall is always hovering over Brooks’ shoulder, holding conversations that only they are privy to, persuading him to return to the illegal activities that he knows they both enjoy.



Their first foray back into murder is a young couple, who are shot in the head while making love, but time has made Mr Brooks a little sloppy and he neglects to close the bedroom curtains, which gives a nosy neighbour a ringside seat to the event and a chance to indulge his hobby of photographing the neighbours. The next day Mr Brooks is being blackmailed into taking the neighbour on his next killing spree or face being reported to the police.

It’s at this point in the story that its split personality emerges, as a separate storyline begins to run parallel. Demi Moore is a hard nosed cop, being sued by her ex husband and on the look out for yet another serial killer, albeit one that she has already put away but has escaped from a maximum security prison and is now out for revenge. A sequence of barely believable events leads her to the Brooks case and to suspect the neighbour of some involvement, by virtue of the kind of hunch that is only possible in the movies and would have her laughed out of any real police force. And so the scene is set for a showdown between the three protagonists that will leave you wondering just how many cooks were involved in ruining a perfectly good premise.

Demi Moore has been away from our screens for a while and after this it’s not hard to see why. To be fair she has to cope with some risible dialogue and ridiculous plot twists but it would have helped it she could have invested a little emotion into her role. We are supposed to believe that she has nearly twenty million dollars in the bank and is quibbling over a divorce settlement that would barely dent it, and all the while carrying on as a police officer just to spite her father who said she would never amount to anything. Having the most unconvincing serial killer in recent history on her tail doesn’t help her cause, but even so it is almost impossible to sympathise with her on any level.



Concentrate on the other storyline, however, and it’s a whole other ball game. Costner and Hurt have a ball as two sides of a twisted mind, their conversations laced with wit and cynicism that the pair spit out with relish. Costner has always been an underrated actor and has always had to work harder than most to get the plaudits that he deserves. It just shows that two flops in a row (Waterworld and The Postman) can take a long time to live down. In The Upside Of Anger he proved that he was willing to play his age and show vulnerability, and here he goes one step further. As Mr Brooks he is a man in conflict with himself, constantly battling the demons within, half of him wanting to continue his double life and the other half hoping he will get caught or killed so that he can end it all. As Marshall, William Hurt is an absolute delight, keeping his performance just this side of reality to stop it going over the top and clearly enjoying every minute of it; he plays it like a slightly more unhinged version of his character in A History Of Violence.

The problem is that the two halves you are presented with just don’t make a satisfying whole. It’s as though two films were in production and someone decided to shove them together and save on the marketing. One film is a tense, thoughtful well acted thriller while the other is a dull, predictable badly acted drama. Like oil and water they never mix, and you come out feeling cheated of the second half of a great little film.

Overall

6

out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 01:06:13

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