strange case of dr. jekyll and mr. hyde (1886) is one of the best known novellas by Robert Louis Stevenson. Still today the reflection about the idea of duality of the Scottish author is acknowledged every single time good and evil meet in the same tormented human being. The whys are countless but the essence is always the same, as it is the outcome. Serial killers in both contemporaneous novellas and movies drink out of that essence. In that sense, mr. brooks does not incorporate much to a subject that has been many times visited by filmmakers, I still remember the excellent psycho (1960). But mr. brooks does have something that makes it different from many other recent movies about serial killers. It has, and I am serious, Kevin Costner, and it has also something else, the addiction factor.
Even though we are not supposed to ever like serial killers, movies like kalifornia (1993) or american psycho (2000), and TV-series like dexter (2006) seem to indicate otherwise. Filmmakers are able to seduce the viewers with the background of the character turning their monstrosities into the consequences of causes we are able to understand when explained in a proper manner. Even though their acts are never justified they are presented to us as victims of the imperfections of the human race.
Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner) is a model businessman, a model husband, a model father, and up till here a model human being. But he hides a model serial killer addicted to kill. He is cold, meticulous, and thoughtful, up to the point that he leaves no loose ends. Nevertheless, one day he makes an unexpected mistake. Mistake Mr. Smith (Dane Cook) will try to take advantage of. Meanwhile Detective Tracey Atwood (Demi Moore) is trying to chase a prey that might as well be the predator.
Bruce A. Evans directed young Milla Jovovich and Christian Slater in kuffs (1992) and did not sit behind the camera until now. And let me say that there is a whole range of grays between then and the way mr. brooks is directed. He is also responsible for the script together with his long time collaborator Raynold Gideon. Despite of the many subplots the movie is made of, some of them annoying I must say, he manages to makes them all play a more or less important part in the outcome of the events. The truth is everything spins around Mr. Brooks and while he is on screen it works great, mainly because of Costner’s most serious performance since dances with wolves (1990). To a point that the viewer wants him on screen as much as possible and becomes uninterested in Detective Atwood’s private life and parallel case. Which is really surprising is that Evans succeeded on somehow fitting everything in the end without many ringlets. The tone of his direction is as sober as the rest of the movie and delivers a product without filigrees only undermined by some out of place action scenes.
As I said before Costner is as powerful as he can be, and that is certainly more than I would have expected. John Hurt, who plays Mr. Brooks’ dark side, is a good compliment to Costner. Surprising is Cook’s performance, since being a comedian himself one would not expect him in a jam like this one. I will not say much about Moore since she just happens to be around.
All in all, a better movie than one might expect. A movie that succeeds at portraying Brook’s profile and drawing an interesting metaphor about addiction. In the end, his addiction to kill could have perfectly been yours to cigars. Bad thing is, many people will get distracted by the many subplots and will let those annoy them.
For the deadhours of those who like playing different roles in their lives depending on who they are facing.