Kevin Costner plays against type as the mild-mannered, ice-cold killer. Brutally slaying a young couple, he vows to give it up. But his inner demon – in the shape of a serpentine William Hurt – doesn’t believe he can, and won’t let him anyway.
Costner’s not the problem with Mr Brooks. Unashamedly aiming for an 18 certificate, it’s a seemingly mature film, shot through with sudden violence, but lacks the psychological depth to which it clearly lays claim.
Demi Moore, however, is a revelation as the world-weary cop. Nailing the nuances of her tough and testy character, Moore steals the show. Or she would if this were a coherent film. Unfortunately, Mr Brooks feels like two movies stitched together – a psychological thriller and a gritty police procedural – which just don’t match up.
Costner’s storyline is icy, talky and meditative, with sudden bouts of violence. But Moore’s engaging cop-plot gives way to sudden bouts of action movie crashiness – cameras swirling, soundtrack blaring.
Aspiring perhaps to the thriller status of Silence of the Lambs, it fails to grip. And while it purports to plumb some psychological depths, its up-close focus on gushing blood and extra-loud bangs means it’s really a slasher film in disguise. Which is a shame, as Costner does great work, and Moore is brilliant.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Mr Brooks was conceived as a trilogy: the lazy plotting, lacking any cat-and-mouse bite, denies us a Costner and Moore showdown. Saving it up for a potential part two is not enough.
As a movie, Mr Brooks is as dysfunctional and schizophrenic as its title character.