I have to give this film credit for embracing its craziness. This is one movie that proudly raises its freak flag high and lets it wave. But that does not mean it works.
Mr. Brooks (Kevin Costner) is an upstanding member of the community, a very successful businessman, and a loving husband and father. He is also a compulsive serial killer who relishes — fetishizes — the preparation and clean-up every bit as much as the act itself. His compulsion is personified by William Hurt, who shows up like one of those little devils who sit on Sylvester’s shoulder, whispering in his ear that Tweetie-Pie looks mighty yummy.
Mr. Brooks goes out on one last hit and makes one big mistake. This leads to a nasty encounter with one “Mr. Smith” (comic Dane Clark). He doesn’t want money; he wants to come along on the next kill.
Brooks has another problem, too. His daughter (Danielle Panabaker) has dropped out of school and isn’t telling him the whole truth about why. And there is a very determined detective (Demi Moore) who seems to be getting closer.
It has some style, and Costner makes good use of his weak chin, turning his aw-shucks All-American quality on its side. There’s a moment when Costner and Hurt turn to each other and laugh demonically that has some grab to it. But for a movie about a guy who plans everything so meticulously, the script is a mess, with careless distractions that seem helpless and random, impossible coincidences that make it appear that there are only about six people living in Portland, and one big fake-out that is nothing but a giant bloody speed-bump on the way to the who-cares-at-this-point conclusion.
Parents should know that this is an extremely violent film with scenes of very graphic murders and shoot-outs with a lot of blood. The main character is a serial killer who kills because he enjoys it, because he is addicted to the thrill and sense of power. There are explicit sexual references and situations, including nudity and an out of wedlock pregnancy. Characters use very strong language. They drink alcohol and there are references to substance abuse.
Audiences who see this film should talk about the way that Earl’s compulsion is portrayed. Is he right in describing his impulse to kill as an addiction? Why is Mr. Smith interested in coming along? Do you believe Atwood’s explanation?