Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mr. Brooks: Grade D


Mr. Brooks (2007)

Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, Dane Cook, William Hurt. Co-writer-Director Bruce Evans.

This should have been a good movie. It has a great story premise, a mild mannered businessman (Costner), who is addicted to killing. He even goes to an AA meeting and announces that he is “an addict.” Demi Moore is a troubled detective hunting Costner and Cook is a younger fellow who wants Costner to teach him how to be a serial killer. The second big plus is a gimmick in which the killer’s conscience is portrayed as a character (Hurt) so the killer and his conscience can have on-screen dialog. “Raines,” a recent TV show that sadly, didn’t make it, involved Jeff Goldblum as a detective with a visible alter-ego. Beats a Shakespearean soliloquy. Add to those benefits a strong cast and some very good cinematography and you should have an excellent movie.

So what went wrong? Two things: the acting and the writing. The acting is flat, mechanical, and dull from the beginning, to the point where we just don’t engage with any of the characters. I wasn’t convinced that any of these players were strong actors to begin with and this movie confirms my opinion. The bad writing is more difficult to fathom. After a strong first hour, it inexplicably goes south, becoming increasingly stilted, unimaginative, and implausible. There was a promise of character development in the beginning, with Costner trying to quit his killing habit, but nothing comes of it. When Costner goes to kiss his sleeping daughter and she suddenly lunges up and stabs him in the neck with a large pair of scissors, I knew the writers had become desperate for ideas. And that’s no spoiler either, because it didn’t really happen. Ha-ha. It’s just an illustration of how stupid the writing becomes, serially killing what could have been, with better actors, or with a director who could make these actors dance, a potentially great film.

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