First things first, Mr. Brooks is not a very good film, so if all you wanted to know was whether to watch it or not, DON’T and stop reading this review now.
Okay, for all of you still with me now, I can go into why it’s so crap.
Psycho killer movies are hard to do and harder to do well. When they work they can be amazing and films like American Psycho, Manhunter, Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer, Funny Games, One Hour Photo or some of the Italian Giallo thriller horrors of the 70’s such as Mario Bava’s Hatchet for a Honeymoon are all much better examples of the genre than Mr. Brook’s.
Their triumph is that they manage to transport the audience into the mind of the madman that they focus on. Sick, nasty, morally challenging, hard going but at times darkly funny, and at their best they make the killer into an iconic character who we almost sympathise with – albeit entirely wrong of us to do so.
Mr. Brook’s really really wants to have the same effect on its viewer and tries everything it can to but fails on all accounts.
Revolving around the titular character played by Kevin Costner, we see his duplicitous life as a high paid businessman, loving husband and father by day and psychopathic mass murderer by night.
Wrestling literally with his dark side in the embodiment of Marshal played by William Hurt, Mr. Brook’s decides to give up killing until he is drawn back in by multiple forces, including a blackmailing witness, another serial killer, his daughters secret past and a female cop hot on his tail.
Confused? Well yes that’s the first problem with this movie. It throws in more twists than Twister which spiral into the realms of ridiculousness much too quickly.
Rather than expand and explore the fascinating life of a psycho, and the films one inventive idea of having his split personality made into a stand alone character visible to Mr. Brooks alone, we are offered up not 1 but 3 other characters who seem obsessed with murder.
The result is Mr. Brook’s character is totally lost, and things such as his past murders and his interesting Modus Operandi are mentioned briefly and then forgotten. By the end the plot is so stupid and unrealistic I didn’t care what the hell happened to anyone and you wont either.
The other problem with the film is it doesn’t seem to know what it believes in regards to the moral implications of being a deranged mass murderer.
Costner seems tortured by his addiction to killing at times and entirely calm and controlled at others. The film leads us to believe that murdering is okay if it saves the ones we love and that homicidal tendencies are inherited like a disease – an idea presented to us as a cold hard fact with no evidence whatsoever.
The final nail in the coffin of the movie is how uncharismatic Mr. Brook’s is. All the best crazy killers committed to celluloid such as Hannibal Lector, Henry, and Patrick Bateman are intriguing, complex and beguiling, making us love to hate them.
Sadly the movie’s one clever idea of splitting Mr. Brook’s personality across two actors is also its ultimate downfall. While Costner moans and whinges about slaughtering, the much more watchable and talented Hurt revels in the carnage and gore. Costner struggles to show both sides of his persona and defaults to the boring and unlikable Mr. Brook’s, rather than Hurt’s interesting and dark Marshal who would have been a much better central character.
All in all this is a pile of crap as I said in the start, although in a way I guess it did get me into the mind of a psycho. After the film had finished I wanted to kill everyone involved in the wasting of the 2 hours of my life that I spent watching it!
Additional film information: Mr. Brooks (2007)