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Rated 2.97 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Addicted to Murder
by Betty Jo Tucker

Hearing voices in your head can be disturbing, of course, but seeing an imaginary person who urges you to give in to your worst impulses represents something much more dangerous. Mr. Brooks follows a wealthy businessman, played by Kevin Costner, as he backslides into his old serial killer habits while being egged on by Marshall, his alter ego, portrayed by William Hurt. Although this psychological thriller tells a fascinating story, it contains a visual problem which almost ruined the movie for me.

I say “almost” because watching Costner’s splendid performance makes Mr. Brooks worth a trip to the multiplex. In fact, had he also been cast as Brooks’ alter ego, this film would be superb. Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I think of an alter ego, I visualize a slightly different version of the real person, so the scenes featuring conversations between Costner and Hurt -- and there are many here -- threw me off because these two men don’t resemble each other in any physical way. Still, my husband saw this movie with me and failed to be bothered by the dual casting situation. Granted, he’s a William Hurt fan, so that’s probably why.     

Besides Marshall, someone else wants Mr. Brooks to go on killing.  After taking photos of Brooks murdering a couple in the building opposite his, Mr. Smith (funnyman Dane Cook, surprisingly believable in a very different type of role) experiences a thrill he’s never felt before. He recognizes Brooks from “Man of the Year” publicity in the local news media. Mr. Smith demands that Brooks take him along on his next kill or he’ll turn the photos over to the police. Brooks agrees, but he keeps changing the plan, much to Smith’s dismay. In the meantime, Brooks faces other challenges. Detective Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore) is hot on his trail, and his daughter (Danielle Panabaker), who’s dropped out of college, is a suspect in a murder case there. (You think you’ve got problems!)

While exploring the inner workings of a serial killer’s mind, Mr. Brooks treats its main character as an addict. He attends A.A. meetings, claiming -- at the beginning of the film -- that’s what helped him refrain from killing for the past two years. He calls himself an addict and even warns Mr. Smith about killing becoming addictive for anyone who enjoys it. He recites the Serenity Prayer often: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. However, it's too bad the A.A. meetings he attends look so bogus.

Costner certainly excels at showing the thrill of the kill, especially in one scene where he twirls around, then contorts his face in pleasure. He’s also quite convincing as concerned father and a loving husband to his beautiful wife (Marg Helgenberger, who's woefully underused here). When his character moans “Forgive me, forgive me, forgive me” over pictures of his latest victims, we believe he really wants to defeat his addiction. And we can’t help sympathizing with Mr. Brooks as he worries over whether or not his daughter has inherited his “addiction.”   

As psychological thrillers go, this one ranks above average because of Costner’s riveting performance. And, despite a few sequences where it’s hard to tell what’s happening because they’re filmed so darkly, the movie boasts polished production values. There’s plenty of suspense -- plus enough blood and gore for most fans of this genre.

Evidently, watching Mr. Brooks produces quite an impact on certain people. For example, my husband complained this morning that some guy “who looks just like William Hurt” keeps following him around. Hmm. Guess I better keep my eyes open from now on.

(Released by MGM and rated “R” for strong bloody violence, some graphic sexual content, nudity and language.)

Listen to Betty Jo review Mr. Brooks at Movie Addict Headquarters on BlogTalkRadio by clicking here

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