Mr. Brooks, written and directed by Bruce Evans and starring Kevin Costner in the lead, seems less a psychological thriller to me than a statement about the human condition. In modern society, we tend to simplify and generalize people into categories.
He's a good father.
She's a Christian.
He's a blogger.
That woman's a college professor.
The kid's a great student.
How we typically define people seems incredibly limited. A good father could be a lousy husband, after all. A Christian could well be a bigot, and a blogger a Rhodes Scholar. (Well, it could happen.) A college professor could have no common sense, and a terrific student could be a cheater.
The human condition is more complicated than we sometimes like to admit.
Earl Brooks is complicated, too. He's a wealthy businessman who is devoted to his family and his community. He also happens to be a very methodical and quite prolific serial killer. Insightful enough to recognize he's addicted to the control that comes with stalking and killing, Brooks tries to fight the urges by using 12-step practices and a strong will. He can't refuse the compulsion to kill for long, however, and occasionally satisfies his blood-lust by choosing random couples to stalk and murder. He's known as "The Thumbprint Killer."
He's completely and utterly evil.
He's also a good father, an attentive husband, a successful businessman and a thoughtful civic leader.
William Hurt has a significant part as the blood-thirsty alter-ego of Mr. Brooks. The movie presents the internal dialogue that occurs between Costner and Hurt in a way that really illustrates just how dominant is this aspect of Brooks' personality. Duane Cook plays a schlep who figures out that Brooks is a murderer and tries to parlay that into a serial killer career of his own. Demi Moore plays a cop searching for Brooks in what was one of the two sub-plots of this movie that were unnecessary, and which only served to clutter up the flick.
Overall, Mr. Brooks was really creepy and above average. But only slightly above average.