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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 03:56 am

Killing time

Costner tries again to shake his good boy image

Mr. Brooks Running time 2:03 Rated R Parkway Pointe
Untitled Document Kevin Costner has been trying to shake his all-American image for quite some time, but the public isn’t buying it. Moviegoers love Costner when he’s cast as a romantic lead (The Bodyguard, Tin Cup), in a Western, or in anything that has to do with sports. However, throw him in a role that has a bit of a dark edge (3000 Miles to Graceland, A Perfect World) and they stay away in droves. Whether that happens with Mr. Brooks remains to be seen. In this thriller, Costner portrays a successful businessman with a supportive wife (Marg Helgenberger) and intelligent daughter (Danielle Panabaker). Alas, Mr. Brooks is also a serial killer with a penchant for slaying couples, then posing and photographing the bodies. Brooks does his best to keep his demons at bay, but his id (William Hurt) comes calling from time to time, urging him to give in to his basest desires and kill once more. It wouldn’t be much a movie if Brooks didn’t fall off the homicide wagon, and, once he does, things rapidly spin out of control. Not only is the killing witnessed by Mr. Smith (Dane Cook), an amateur photographer who proceeds to blackmail Brooks, but Brooks also has a persistent detective (Demi Moore) on his heels. The acting, in general, is superlative, with Moore the exception and Cook a major surprise. However, the film really crackles when Costner and Hurt share the screen. Embodying separate parts of a fractured mind, these two veterans go toe to toe throughout, waging war over one man’s soul. Hurt is having great fun here, cackling and giggling as he prods Brooks into betraying his own best intentions. Costner matches him step for step, displaying a genuine sense of anguish over Brooks’ predicament yet also showing more than a bit of enjoyment once he gives in to his dark side. Watch as he subtly adopts some of Hurt’s mannerisms, making Brooks’ transformation all the more convincing.
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