Consider Mr. Brooks. A successful businessman. A generous philanthropist. A loving father and devoted husband. Seemingly, he's perfect. But Mr. Brooks has a secret — he is an insatiable serial killer, so lethally clever that no one has ever suspected him — until now. Earl Brooks is a man who has managed to keep his two incompatible worlds from intersecting by controlling his cunning, wicked alter ego Marshall. But now, as Mr. Brooks succumbs to one last murderous urge, an amateur photographer witnesses the crime. Suddenly Brooks finds himself entangled in the dark agenda of an opportunistic bystander, as well as hunted by the unorthodox and tenacious detective Tracy Atwood. Can Mr. Brooks outsmart his adversaries and conceal his shocking double life from his wife and daughter or will someone expose his crimes and his identity once and for all?
For more about Mr. Brooks and the Mr. Brooks Blu-ray release, see Mr. Brooks Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on December 7, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Kevin Costner and William Hurt are both actors who have seen better days with respect to their popularity and demand in Hollywood. Both men have, at one time or another, stood at the very pinnacle of Hollywood's elite acting talent. These days, Mr. Hurt has found a comfortable niche as an effective and sought-after character player; Mr. Costner seems to concentrate more on his directorial efforts and the occasional lightweight romantic comedy. So, it's something of a novelty to see both actors taking on heavier and more serious leading roles in Mr. Brooks; a film that possesses a unique angle in the long-standing tradition of serial killer films.
Two sides of one personality: Marshall and Mr. Brooks
Make no mistake, Mr. Brooks (Kevin Costner) is a true psychopathic serial killer. He's also a admired and successful businessman, husband and proud father. Mr. Brooks begins as, well, Mr. Brooks wrestles with his distinctive secondary personality known as Marshall (William Hurt), on whether or not to kill a young couple that have caught his eye. Both of Mr. Brooks' personalities have violent tendencies, but Marshall seems to serve as a catalyst and motivator; spurring Brooks into action and encouraging his killer instincts. Unfortunately for Mr. Brooks, an inquisitive loner, Mr. Smith (Dane Cook), photographs him in the act of committing a murder and attempts to blackmail him. Add a troubled daughter (Danielle Panabaker) and a nosy detective (Demi Moore) into the mix, and this is going to be a tough week for Mr. Brooks.
Mr. Brooks works on many levels as a film. Strangely, if this movie had been released in 1992, it would have featured three of the biggest stars in the business at that time and would have likely been a guaranteed blockbuster. Perhaps my familiarity with Showtime's serial killer series "Dexter" hampers my ability to truly enjoy Mr. Brooks. Both stories feature similar plot details relating to the inner-monologue of serial killers, but "Dexter" succeeds in being convincing and compelling where Mr. Brooks is simply acceptable. Regardless, the performances here are all solid and bolster a relatively creative story. I didn't find any of the characters particularly likable; that's certainly not a requirement of a good movie. Demi Moore's character, a spoiled rich and supremely arrogant police officer, is exhausting and tedious. She's essential to the film's plot, but is written so poorly that she's barely watchable. What's left are effectively sinister performances from William Hurt and Kevin Costner; both straying miles away from their typical roles. The film can be very violent at times, so please be forewarned. If there is one thing I can say definitively about Mr. Brooks, it's that the film is both interesting and unnerving.
As usual, Fox presents Mr. Brooks in glorious 1080p using the AVC Mpeg-4 compression codec and maintaining the film's original theatrical aspect ratio. The results are simply smashing and elevate the film's Blu-ray transfer into the ranks of some of Fox's better recent releases. Mr. Brooks is a very dark film visually; the extra resolution afforded by high bitrate compression allows the film's darker and more difficult material ample breathing room.
Mr. Brooks features an abundance of challenging material; this Blu-ray presentation resolves a level of shadow detail that is nothing short of amazing. Black levels are consistently rock-solid and satisfying while brighter scenes maintain a natural look that is never overblown. The few colorful scenes in the film are pleasantly saturated and offer a welcome contrast from the deep hues of the remainder of the film. Compression artifacts are nonexistent and the film's fine grain structure is perfectly preserved. Fine detail also manages to please with easily discernible fabric and skin details. Mr. Brookswasn't a film I had much hope for in the video department. Kudos to MGM for taking their time and delivering an above average encode that is highly recommended!
Fox has included a 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack with Mr. Brooks and the results are astounding. Unfortunately, I'm only able to sample the track's 1.5 MB/s lossy core at this time due to equipment limitations. Regardless, the DTS presentation is rich, active and exciting. The mix's rear surround channels are extremely well utilized; the entire mix creates a wonderful sense of dimensionality and ambience in the listening area. Dialogue is also well presented with articulate placement and intelligibility. There is quite a bit of LFE rumble in the film with its endless supply of chilling music and the occasional audio stinger. All told, Mr. Brooks ranks among the better sound mixes Fox has produced for Blu-ray to date. Recommended.
-Commentary with Director Bruce Evans and Writer Raynold Gideon
-"The Birth of a Serial Killer: The Writing of Mr. Brooks"
-"Murder on their Minds: Mr. Brooks, Marshall and Mr. Smith"
-"On the Set of Mr. Brooks"
There's really not much to this supplemental package. I found each featurette to be little more than very limited promotional material. You'll find nothing of any real depth with any of the three. The feature commentary is also a complete waste of time. Mr. Evans and Mr. Gideon have little to add to the discussion, other than that they are very proud of their own cleverness. The six deleted scenes would be more accurately described as scene extensions rather than actual new content. On a brighter note, there are a few nice theatrical trailers included.
Mr. Brooks is a dark, disturbing and ultimately interesting affair. I enjoyed the interplay between William Hurt and Kevin Costner; both men have devised performances that serve as a stark contrast to the lighter roles that both frequently find themselves typecast in. Perhaps it's that lack of familiarity that attracted each of them to these disturbed characters. The film, unfortunately, has more than a few problems, yet still manages to be entertaining. Video and audio are both extremely well realized with this Blu-ray presentation; the film's challenging visual material benefits from its high bitrate encode and the DTS HD-Master Audio soundtrack is active and thrilling. The disc's supplemental section is, regrettably, this Blu-ray release's weakest point and fails to offer much in the way of extra features. If you enjoy serial killer films, horror movies or psychological drama, Mr. Brooks is certainly worth seeing. It's an intriguing movie that might just improve over repeat viewings.