Earl Brooks is a highly respected businessman and was recently named Portland's Man of the Year. He hides a terrible secret however: he is a serial killer known as the Thumbprint Killer. He has been attending AA meetings and has kept his addiction to killing under control for two years now but his alter ego, Marshall, has re-appeared and is pushing him to kill again. When he does kill a couple while they are making love, he is seen and photographed by someone who also has his own death and murder fetish. In a parallel story, the police detective investigating the murder is having problems of her own. She is going through a messy divorce and a violent criminal who had vowed revenge some years before has escaped from prison and is after her. Written by
The movie is supposed to be set in Oregon, however the license plates on the cars let you know that it can't possibly be Oregon. Oregon license plates have three letters and then three numbers or vice versa. Not two letters and then a number with two numbers and a letter for the second half of the plate. This, however, is a common device in filmmaking, as film producers do not wish to actual registrations. Films shot in New York and Washington almost always feature cars whose license plates fail to conform to registration patterns. See more »
Mr. Earl Brooks:
Oh God... God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
Why do you fight it so hard, Earl?
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A thumbprint forms the backdrop for the end credits. See more »
The main thing about Mr. Brooks that I love is that it is so convincing in its portrayal of the internal workings of a certain sort of mind, almost as if it were an inside story. Mr. Brooks is a character who is completely unsuspecting to anyone observing him, yet he is a completely different person beneath the skin. He is much more complex than a lot of mainstream audiences will realize upon first viewing. He has deep feelings for his family, which means he's capable of deep feelings. Yet he is completely aware of his manipulative and destructive capabilities and intermittently cannot help himself and must take advantage of them. I think the script is a truly brilliant rendering of a very realistic sort of personality that is so secretive that they can be found throughout the range of all human activity.
Kevin Costner having always been one of the most wooden actors in contemporary movies, I am very impressed that he hit the nail on the head with this very challenging and multi-layered character of Mr. Brooks, and in understanding him completely knew just how much of him to reserve for William Hurt's share, Hurt playing a figure nonexistent to anyone in the film other than Costner, representing the deepest, darkest thoughts of Mr. Brooks. The script and direction are very clear-cut and discern the dialogue between Costner and Hurt as the same character and not a split personality.
Demi Moore is affecting in her portrayal of a cop whose personal life calls upon the part of a personality that would urge with anger towards thoughts of murder and is able to suppress them. It's maybe my favorite of all the performances I've seen of hers. There is lots of subtext in what appears to be a token cop role.
The most interesting casting choice, aside from the impressive comebacks by two aging former box-office magnets, is of comedian Dane Cook as a blackmailing witness to one of Mr. Brooks's murders. His character is a creative blend of voyeuristic and eagerly putzy, and Cook pulls it off very becomingly.
As well as being a very gripping and unpredictable celebration of evil, I think a lot of extra credit is due to this film especially for holding its own at the box office during a summer of conglomerate box-office hogs like the second sequels to Pirates of the Caribbean, Shrek, Ocean's Eleven, and Spider-Man when it is actually very edgy and takes a lot of risks as a mainstream film.
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