*** out of ****
'The Hunger Has Returned to Mr. Brooks' Brain. It never really left'. These chilling words start off the creepy dramatic thriller that is Mr. Brooks.
Kevin Costner stars in the title role as Mr. Earl Brooks. Earl leads two lives. On one side he is a husband to Emma (Marg Helgenberger) and father to his high-school daughter Jane (Danielle Panabaker). He is also named ‘Man of the Year’ in his community and well off, owning a successful box company. However, the other side of Mr. Earl Brooks is much darker and sinister than anyone can imagine, he is an elusive serial killer, nicknamed by the media, ‘The Thumbprint Killer’. Though he doesn’t like to murder strangers he is urged by his imaginary counterpart, Marshall (William Hurt) to do so.
Holding off temptation of killing from his alter ego for two years he breaks down and murders a couple (Megan Brown and Ross Francis) in their bedroom.
The next day Earl discovers someone caught him in the act and has pictures to prove it. He is Mr. Smith (Dane Cook), who lives in the apartment complex next door to the couple. However, Mr. Smith doesn’t blackmail Earl or threaten him that he is going to the cops, but rather wants to go on the next murder with him. Without a choice Earl accepts.
At the same time, Detective Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore), who is going through a bitter divorce, is on Earl’s trail. Devoting herself to this long-running case she thinks she is closer than ever before. However, as a side plot, escaped serial killer, Thorton Meeks (Matt Schulze), put away by Tracy, and his girlfriend, Sunday (Yasmine Delawari), are out to kill the Detective for vengeance.
Mr. Brooks is wildly original with many unexpected plot twists that actually make sense and lead up to a shocking revelation. However, Brooks never takes itself very seriously with laughs strewn about.
Good guy Costner is terrific as the sinister Brooks, a role that audiences are not familiar with him playing. Hurt playing Costner’s alter ego is marvelous and Moore adds direction throughout. Though the most surprising performance comes from funnyman Dane Cook, in his first dramatic role, stands his ground with the award winning trio.
Director and writer Bruce A. Evans gives the film style and terrifically manages to build up tension and releases it in short action filled bursts of time.
A great movie to see: Mr. Brooks is a killer of a thriller.