Get local news delivered straight to your phone
We can't make City Paper without you
Can you take Crash Davis seriously as a bad guy? Kevin Costner, who’s so good at inhabiting characters from baseball players to…baseball players, tries to find his dark side in Mr. Brooks, writer-director Bruce A. Evans’ thriller about a man who isn’t quite what he seems to be. Mr. Brooks, a righteous citizen and family man, is also Mr. Serial Killer. In Costner’s hands, though, he’s more like a big meanie with a petulant scowl, OCD tendencies, and pretty good aim. We even get an additional actor (William Hurt) to play Brooks’ shoulder-devil, helpfully sparing Costner from having to project too much inner malevolence. Hurt’s performance as the goading Marshall—“Why do you fight it?” he asks in a deliciously evil rumble—is the best thing about the movie. But the character himself wears out his welcome (really, does no one notice Brooks talking to himself?) as does Evans’ and co-writer Raynold Gideon’s contrived plot. As the story begins, the serenity-prayer-spouting Brooks has been attending AA meetings for a couple of years, trying to control his “addiction.” But as an opening placard ridiculously warns, the hunger has returned to mr. brooks’ brain! He’s been following a young couple and decides on a last hurrah, meticulously planned and executed in a manner that the authorities have come to expect from the so-called “Thumbprint Killer.” Assigned to the case is Detective Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore), who’s a—surprise!—headstrong woman who “can’t ask for help,” even though she’s going through a draining divorce and dealing with the escape of another murderer she’d put behind bars. After he’s gotten the urge out of his system, Brooks’ life gets complicated as well. An amateur photographer (Dane Cook) happened to see him in the couple’s apartment and snapped a picture—and is so excited by it that he wants to learn to kill, too. Meanwhile, Brooks’ daughter (Danielle Panabaker) appears to have an issue of her own, which is supposed to be deadly serious but will more likely give you a good laugh. Mr. Brooks’ somewhat intriguing premise is marred by cheap scares, unbelievable plot points, and a rather sickening attitude, mostly courtesy of Cook’s usually pouty character, who yelps “Yes! You are the man!” after he watches his mentor murder again. Costner’s not the man here, but he’s far from the worst part of Mr. Brooks—which may be the film’s most unbelievable twist.