Earl Brooks (Costner) is a successful businessman, a loving husband and father, and has just been named the city’s man of the year. Oh, and he’s also a prolific serial killer with an imaginary friend named Marshall (Hurt) who serves as the voice of Earl’s unremitting need to kill. When Marshall talks Earl into murdering a young couple after a two year hiatus, the usually careful Earl makes an uncharacteristic mistake by leaving the shades open during the home invasion, and sets himself up for blackmail at the hands of an amateur photographer/peeping tom named “Mr. Smith” (Cook), who has been photographing the couple for months from his building across the street. Smith isn’t interested in Earl’s money, however; he wants to accompany Earl on his next kill, and experience the rush of murder for himself. Earl and Marshall decide to have fun with this, and agree to Smith’s terms.
Meanwhile, the beleaguered Detective Tracy Atwood (Moore) investigates Earl’s latest crime, and suspects that “Smith” knows more than he’s letting on. At the same time, a killer she’d put behind bars years ago has escaped, and has made it clear that he’s got unfinished business with her. To make matters worse, Atwood is going through a messy divorce and her soon to be ex-husband has his eyes on the young detective’s large family inheritance. When Earl learns that Atwood is following his case, he decides to investigate the investigator, and uses what he’s discovered about her to set in motion on of the most fiendishly clever plans of his “career”.
Mr. Brooks is a really fun, fast-paced, and exciting thriller that packs lots of humor and surprises into what could have been just another serial killer flick. Costner and Hurt are terrific together (this is easily Hurt’s best performance in ages), and Dane Cook is a revelation as the slovenly Mr. Smith. Demi Moore’s Atwood is bit underwritten, however, and is saddled with some of the film’s worst dialogue (“See ya later, alligator”? Groan), but damnit if she isn’t still a treat for the eyes.
While there are some minor missteps (a wholly unnecessary sub-plot involving Brooks’ daughter) and a few bits of self-referential dialogue that doesn’t quite fit in with the overall dark tone of the film, Mr. Brooks is still a crackling thriller that is much better than the “mainstream” critics would have you believe.
The picture quality of this Blu-ray is, at times, astounding, with exceptional detail and clarity. Sadly the blacks have something of a grayish quality to them in the film's darker sequences (of which there are many). It's not a deal breaker or anything, but it puts a bit of a ding in what is otherwise an exemplary transfer.
The AC-3 audio track is excellent, with crisp highs, nicely rounded bass, and a kick-ass surround mix. There were two scenes that made my wife jump out of her skin just from the sound mix alone!
Mr. Brooks' Blu-ray release sports all of the same extras as it's SD counterpart, but all presented in glorious HD, including three short featurettes, deleted scenes, and an audio commentary with director Evans and co-writer, Raynold Gideon. There are also trailers for this and other films, all presented in HD save for one (for the upcoming Rescue Dawn).
The extras don't add up to a heck of a lot, but the fact that they're in HD is a nice bonus, especially when not many Blu-ray releases have any HD content at all.
Mr. Brooks is a very entertaining and welcome spin on a well-worn genre. The performances by Costner, Hurt, and Cook are excellent, and the interaction between these characters makes for some deliciously dark stuff. While the film could have been streamlined by the exclusion of some peripheral characters and excess narrative, this is still a welcome reprieve from the usual serial killer nonsense, and well worth checking out!