Mr. Brooks (2007)

(In theaters, June 2007) Wait long enough and you’ll see everything. In this case, Mr. Brooks takes the current trend of glorifying serial killers and turns it into a feel-good film about such a protagonist. It’s meant as a black comedy, but the execution often isn’t too sure of the intended effect: The presence of a cackling John Hurt as the imaginary anti-conscience of Kevin Costner’s Mr. Brooks makes for some amusing sequences, but the bloody suspense of the piece doesn’t play nice with the cynical grins. It doesn’t help that the script never knows when to quit: Starting from a mildly intriguing premise about a serial murderer troubled by his conscience, Mr. Brooks spins up more and more subplots until we’re left with almost a half-dozen killers (including potential ones) running around at cross-purposes. It quickly gets ridiculous. Other signs suggests that the script was either badly constructed from the start or damaged in editing: a hideous coincidence during the third act hint at a plot point that is never brought up again. When the false-trick ending comes up, it doesn’t feel as cheap as it could have: why that point in the movie, we’re just wondering how ludicrous this is going to become. At least it remains interesting: for all of its faults, there are enough promising things about Mr. Brooks to keep our interest until the bitter disappointment of its ending. If this film is remembered at all, it will be as a sort of apogee for post-modern serial killer plotting.

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