Bloody disappointing, that's what Mr. Brooks is. Kevin Costner plays a respectable Portland businessman who kills for thrills, thanks to the goading of an imaginary friend who looks a whole lot like William Hurt. Costner's Earl Brooks is such a square (appropriate, perhaps, for a man who made his fortune in box manufacturing) that he kills all of two people in the movie's first 90 minutes or so. If only Mr. Brooks weren't trying so hard to make some point about the hereditary nature of addiction, it might have been fun. Instead we get a morality tale in which a father (Costner) passes along to his daughter (Danielle Panabaker) his killer genes and then tries to reverse the cycle of addiction, lest his little girl wind up as tortured as he claims to be. Mr. Brooks mutters to himself the Serenity Prayer ("God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change . . . ") and goes to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings (where he admits only to being "an addict"), but the device is hollow and ham-fisted—a slight gag meant to elicit an ironic chuckle, not illuminate a character so barely fleshed out he's little more than a bespectacled skeleton firing blanks at the audience's heads.
Mr. Brooks Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., June 1. Rated R. 120 minutes.