MR. BROOKS

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MR. BROOKS - 2007
USA Release: June 1, 2007
Element Films / Eden Rock media / MGM
Ratings: USA: R

Just because we want to do something doesn't mean we like it. Many people want to have a job to go to everyday; a roof over their heads; and three meals a day. Whether they like their job, house, or the taste of their food is irrelevant. The fact that your work provides for your needs doesn't mean you like your job.

It's the same for addicts. Many of them started young, and what grew into an addicton initially made them feel great. Or it made them feel that they deserved it as a form of punishment. But just because they indulge their addiction doesn't mean they like it. They may not like making fools of themselves, waking up in their own vomit or excrement, and humiliating and losing their family and friends.

Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner: SHADOWS RUN BLACK, DRAGONFLY) is a man admired and recognized by his community; loved by his wife Emma (Marg Helgenberger: SPECIES, SPECIES II) and daughter Jane (Danielle Panabaker). He's the business owner of a very large box manufacturing plant. In his quiet moments he loves to work with various glazes on pottery. He also kills people. He prefers to kill them in twos, preferably one man and one woman and while they are in the act of coitus. He prefers to terrorize them with his presence right at the moment of their orgasm by saying "Hello."

He kills them quickly, shooting them in the head, and then experiences paroxisms of intense pleasure. Then he arranges their bodies in the act of sex, takes some photographs, and leaves. And he does this so well that he has never been caught. But he hasn't killed in two years. He doesn't enjoy killing, he does it because of Marshall (William Hurt: ALTERED STATES, DARK CITY), a characterization of Earl who lives inside Brooks head. Marshall is Earl's Muse, best friend, worst enemy, and confidant. Marshall loves to kill, goads Earl into killing, questioning everything about Earl's life when he doesn't, and never shuts up with his incessant begging until Earl satisfies the Marshall part of himself by killing again. Earl's daughter has returned early from college. The fact that she has dropped out is nothing compared to her bigger secret.

Detective Tracey Atwood (Demi Moore: PARASITE, THE SEVENTH SIGN, GHOST) is going through a bitter divorce. Her husband wants millions from her and he might get it. Because Tracey doesn't need to work for a living, she may have other personal reasons, ones which may be as addictive as Earl's. Tracey is very good at her job but the one thing she has never done is solve the case of the Thumbprint Killer. A serial killer who seems to have returned after a two year hiatus. Tracey has no idea that the Thumbprint Killer is also her city's Man of the Year. And Mr. Brooks has no idea that, out of all of the frustrated police trying to track down the Thumbprint Killer, that Tracey is far closer than anyone else. But he is about to find out.

"Maybe I want to get caught"
- Mr. Brooks

Earl is slightly rusty in the killing game, having been away from it for so long. So he didn't notice that the couple he just murdered liked to have sex with their curtains open in plain view of the apartments across the street. It's not long, however, before the Man of the Year finds that not only did other people watch the couple have sex, but that one liked to take pictures.

A man calling himself Mr. Smith, brings photographs of Mr. Brooks murder right into Earl's company. But Mr. Smith (Dane Cook) doesn't want to blackmail Mr. Brooks for money or power. Instead, he found his voyeurism more exciting than anything he has ever known, and he wants to see it again. He wants Mr. Brooks to murder again and he wants to be present, right next to Mr. Brooks, when it happens.

So begins a story that is wonderfully complex and twisted without ever getting lost and convoluted. While I can't fault cop shows whose characters are woefully two-dimensional (I can't because these are usually the most successful), I have no personal appreciation for them. As anyone who has an interest in true-life crime will attest, serial killers are rarely brilliant, and most often get away with what they do thanks to a combination of method and blind luck. Investigators are hampered by their personal lives, job restrictions, mishandled evidence, and their own flaws. Adding more investigators tends to magnify the various personal issues and problems, instead of filtering them out. In retrospect, investigators find that they often missed catching the felon by seconds, and the felons never knew how close they were to getting caught. MR. BROOKS plays on this in a way that wonderfully orchestrates the many characters and their lives and how what they do plucks the string of every other character - whether they realize it or not.

Thus MR. BROOKS plays out as a tightening of the screw story, drawing the threads of all of these characters together into an eventual collision. It dawns on Earl that perhaps he really doesn't want to be caught after all. Or maybe that's just Marshall talking. In either case, Mr. Brooks is in the unique position of witnessing all the various threads pulling towards him, and finds himself wondering if he wants to stop the turning of the screw, or be witness to its crushing outcome.

This symphony is by the writing team of Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon and conducted by Bruce.

But like Papa Hayden's Symphony No. 94 aka The Surprise Symphony, there is a jarring gag moment. Unlike Hayden, this gag gets repeated a few times. It's a distraction from the pace of the rest of the movie and smells like board room consensus.

"Hey Bruce! This is truly a great twisted and evolving storyline. Very unique! Perhaps even penultimate unique! It could be SILENCE OF THE LAMBS great! But you know what would have really put SILENCE OF THE LAMBS over the top? Is if they had a few car chases and explosions! Maybe some MATRIX style scenes! Yeah! THE MATRIX! Could you shoe-horn in a few THE MATRIX scenes?"

It's not that the Matrix style scenes aren't well done, they are; but MAN are they ever in the living hell incongruent with the rest of the movie! Damn!

It's a testament to Bruce's directorial ability and perhaps Film Editor Miklos Wright that the movie isn't derailed by these scenes (hence, the Hayden reference).

The play of light and dark from scene to scene is also VERY well done. John Lindley (KILLER PARTY, THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW, THE SUM OF ALL FEARS, THE CORE)'s cinematography is compelling. Daylight scenes are slightly washed out and the colors are far less interesting. His days are nearly the color of concrete. Mr. Brooks company building, like his house, carries an industrial generic look as if, like Earl, his company and house also hide in plain sight, looking as uninteresting as possible. Yet it's the night time when Mr. Brooks is awash in bold warm colors.

All in all a beautiful movie that's as chilling as it is gripping; fascinating and repelling at the same time, MR. BROOKS gets Four Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2007 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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