Early on, it’s easy to tell that Mr. Brooks doesn’t take itself seriously.
At least I hope it didn’t.
What starts off as an intriguing look into a seemingly normal man’s life and his addiction to killing people, Mr. Brooks quickly spirals down the drain into a movie that tries to do too much and ends up doing too little.
Done differently, Mr. Brooks could have been a more serious film, perhaps a character study, with hints of dark humor thrown in for good measure. Instead, too much time is spent on a detective (Demi Moore) tracking down Mr. Brooks, her divorce, and the other serial killer that has escaped from prison and is hunting her down as well.
Dane Cook doesn’t fare too well either, as a man who spies Mr. Brooks in the act and wants in on the killing action. As Mr. Brooks’ unknowing wife, Marg Helgenberger doesn’t have much to do. Meanwhile, other subplots pop up and then disappear, failing to mean anything in the end.
That doesn’t even include the tone of the film, which wanders from horror, to drama, to comedy, to action and then back again. Mr. Brooks throws everything at the wall, but hardly anything sticks.
One thing does, however, manage to stick, or at least slide down the wall for a bit. And that is William Hurt as Mr. Brooks’ alter-ego, who is always lurking in the shadows or in the rear-view mirror, egging Mr. Brooks to kill again. Hurt’s performance doesn’t save the film, but it does make it a bit more watchable.
In the end, Mr. Brooks is all over the place. Handled differently it could have been better, but it wasn’t, so, it isn’t.
Mr. Brooks is presented in1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture is damn near flawless. Images are razor sharp and clear, with little or no grain to speak of. The DVD’s picture did make me wonder if the brightness settings on my TV were turned up, giving it that cloudy look, but my TV was at its normal setting. That said, it’s hardly anything to complain about. While the film itself is a letdown, Mr. Brooks looks amazing.
Like its video transfer, Mr. Brooks shines again in the A/V department with a kick-ass 5.1 DTS audio track. Dialog is always clear, but the soundtrack shines when there is action. Gun shots are LOUD! They made me jump for my audio receiver remote a few times to adjust the volume accordingly. Jump scares will make you jump. Beware!
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is powerful in its own right, but lacks the extra oomph that the DTS track has in spades. The DD 5.1 track is serviceable, but it may not open your eyes in amazement like the DTS did for me so many times.
Mr. Brooks is packed with Special Features, but most of them are of standard DVD variety. First up is a Commentary with the writer and director. They talk about how they wrote the film with Kevin Costner in mind and filming the movie outside of Hollywood.
Next up are some Deleted Scenes which really just flesh out existing scenes. I was amazed to find that there wasn’t an alternate ending or two here, as I felt the filmmakers really didn’t know how to end the film with its original ending. Apparently, they didn’t know how to start the film, as there is an alternate opening sequence. Funny, I thought the opening of the film was fine!
Now we get into the “behind the scenes” stuff. There are three featurettes but they blended together so much that I will discuss them as such. They are, Birth of a Serial Killer: The Writing of Mr. Brooks, On the Set with Mr. Brooks, and Murder on their Minds: Mr. Brooks, Marshall and Mr. Smith.
Here the filmmakers discuss shooting the film in Shreveport, LA instead of Portland, Oregon, where the film is set. They also discuss how they were primarily associated with children’s films before making Mr. Brooks (it shows) and by doing so, they wanted to become more adult-minded filmmakers. In one of the featurettes, Costner talks about sending the script to William Hurt, having worked with him before on The Big Chill (I guess Costner got to know the cast really well playing a dead guy for like 5 seconds, go figure), and Hurt accepting the role.
It’s all pretty standard, but if you enjoyed the film, then you might find the featurettes more interesting than I did.
Rounding out the Special Features are trailers for Mr. Brooks, as well as some FOX TV shows and Day Watch.
Any way you slice it, Mr. Brooks is mediocre at best. The film itself is a mess, but the disc is handled very well, with an excellent sound and picture transfer. While the Special Features are nothing earth shattering, there is a commentary and a bunch of self-indulgent featurettes to wade through.
As a film, Mr. Brooks left me cold, but you might warm up to it, depending on your mood, and the disc’s specs won’t hurt. Happy hunting!