Solving the problem of evil in the twenty-first century

Mr. Brooks

Mr. Brooks is a 2007 thriller starring Kevin Costner, Dane Cook, and Demi Moore.  It is about how Earl Brooks (Costner) is s serial killer who decides he will never kill again.  However, his alter ego convinces him to just do one more killing to satisfy his urges after not killing in two years.  He chooses to murder a couple in their apartment, only to realize that the curtains had been open the entire time.  Later the next day, Mr. Smith (Cook) shows up to Earl’s office bearing pictures of the murder.  He then blackmails Earl into taking Mr. Smith on his next murder.  Throughout the rest of the movie, Earl teaches Mr. Smith how to prepare for the murder.

Although there aren’t any direct religious references in the movie, one can infer that the idea of Earl’s alter ego, Marshall, plays a similar role as Satan and the serpent in Paradise Lost.  Before learning that Earl is a serial killer, he comes off as a normal man.  He is extremely successful as the owner of a box-making company and, has what appears to be, a very loving, happy, and normal family (later in the movie you find out otherwise).  It is only when you are introduced to his alter ego, Marshall, that you realize something is wrong.  Similarly to Satan in Paradise Lost, who talks to Eve and tries to corrupt her by eating the forbidden fruit, Marshall constantly talks to Earl and tries to convince him to start murdering people again.  He tries to convince Earl that no harm can come from murdering again.  Neither Eve nor Earl want to give into the force tempting them because they are both presented as pure.  However, they both do give in and are corrupted, therefore losing their innocence and living a life with sin.  Unlike Paradise Lost, the force tempting the main character in Mr. Brooks is presented as being a part of the character. In Paradise Lost, Eve is being tempted by Satan, who isn’t a part of her soul or body.  In Mr. Brooks, Earl is being tempted by the evil part of himself, representing how Satan is actually the sinful desires that lurk in every person.



4 responses

  1. I really like how you explain your views on Paradise Lost as being an influence to the making of Earl’s character in Mr. Brooks. The temptation of evil with both Earl and Eve clearly explains the power of Satan and how his desires might become our desires.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:13 pm

  2. zet66

    You made an interesting connection to Paradise Lost. This movie also seems very similar to Confessions of a Justified Sinner. In both cases the devil is implied to be the evil side of the person under its influence. The devil, or alter ego, is not necessarily an outside force but rather the evil within the person personified.

    May 8, 2011 at 9:04 pm

  3. Akshata

    I agree ^. You made an interesting connection with the movie and Paradise Lost. I also thought it was interesting that you saw the alter-ego as a representation of Satan himself, since in Paradise Lost, we view him as a conniving and separate creature, yet in the movie, he is within the main character and his personality.

    May 10, 2011 at 11:08 pm

  4. nbe88

    This is a great movie and the connections you made between it and Paradise Lost are really thoughtful. But I was just wondering what you thought about his daughter’s own murderous behavior that we come to find out about in the movie. Like Father like Daughter??

    May 13, 2011 at 4:43 pm

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