Mr. Brooks  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Mr. Brooks is a 2007 American psychological thriller film directed by Bruce A. Evans starring Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, Dane Cook, and William Hurt. It was released on June 1, 2007. The film follows the eponymous character, a celebrated Portland businessman and serial killer who is forced to take on a protégé (Cook) after being blackmailed, and has to contend with his bloodthirsty alter ego (Hurt) who convinces him to indulge his "habit". His life grows even more complicated when a driven police officer (Moore) reopens the investigation into his murders. The film was commercially successful and has inspired a modest cult following.


Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner) is a wealthy, successful businessman recently honored by the Portland, Oregon Chamber of Commerce as "Man of the Year." In his secret life, Brooks is a serial killer, known as the "Thumbprint Killer." Brooks has abstained from murder for the past two years by attending 12 step meetings for addicts to cope with his killing addiction. He feels the compulsion to kill rising again, however, as his alter ego, Marshall (William Hurt) becomes more insistent. Brooks, to satisfy his addiction, kills a couple while they are having sex in their apartment and, as part of his pathosis, leaves each of the victims' bloody thumbprints on a lampshade. Brooks follows his meticulous modus operandi, including fastidious preparation and cleaning up the crime scene, even locking the doors before departing. Marshall then notices that the couple's curtains were open.

Brooks' daughter Jane (Danielle Panabaker) unexpectedly arrives home, having dropped out of college in Palo Alto, California. She visits Brooks at work and mentions that she would like to get a job with his company. The same day, “Mr. Smith” (Dane Cook) turns up at Brooks' work and blackmails him with photographs of Brooks at the most recent murder. He demands that Brooks take him along on a murder; reluctantly, Brooks agrees. Mrs. Brooks (Marg Helgenberger) reveals that Jane dropped out of college because she is pregnant. The Brookses are then visited by detectives from Palo Alto who want to interview Jane about a hatchet murder committed in her former dorm building. Marshall and Brooks realize that Jane committed the murder and consider letting her go to jail to "save her" from becoming like them. Eventually, however, Brooks uses an alternate identity, flies to Palo Alto, and commits a similar murder to make it appear as if a serial killer is loose, thereby exonerating Jane.

Brooks decides that he no longer wants to kill, but knows that he cannot stop himself. Not wanting to be caught and shame his family, Brooks concocts a plan where he will write a note to his family claiming to be terminally ill, and leave, never to return. Brooks researches the background of the police officer chasing the Thumbprint Killer, Detective Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore), and discovers she's in the middle of a messy divorce from Jesse Vialo (Jason Lewis). Brooks decides that Vialo and his lawyer (Reiko Aylesworth) will be Smith's first "victims". At the scene of the Vialo murder, Smith urinates in a fit of panic, leaving his DNA for the police to discover later. While driving away from the scene, Smith pulls a gun on Brooks, which Brooks and Marshall had predicted would happen. Brooks explains his plan to Smith, who agrees to kill Brooks. Brooks takes Smith to a cemetery he owns, and explains that they will find an open grave; Smith will shoot Brooks and then cover him with just enough dirt to mask the body. The next day, a casket will be lowered into the grave and covered, and Brooks' body will never be discovered.

Smith attempts to shoot Brooks, but Brooks reveals that, at some point prior, he had broken into Smith's apartment and bent the firing pin on Smith's pistol, rendering it inoperable on the off-chance that Brooks would change his mind. Brooks' brush with death makes him realize he wants to see his grandchild, and he turns on his would-be murderer, slitting Smith's throat with a shovel. With Smith's urine providing the only DNA evidence of the Thumbprint Killer at a murder scene, Brooks will remain undetected.

Mr. Smith is named as the Thumbprint Killer and Brooks returns to his normal life. Knowing he is in the clear, Brooks calls Detective Atwood, whom he has come to admire, to ask her why she is a police officer. She replies that her wealthy father had wanted a boy, and she wanted to succeed in spite of him. Atwood is unable to trace the call before Brooks hangs up, but she realizes that the Thumbprint Killer is still at large. That night Brooks has a nightmare in which Jane kills him, suggesting that he fears Jane will become like him.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mr. Brooks" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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