Kevin Costner’s “Mr. Brooks”: A Psychological Thriller

Kevin Costner’s “Mr. Brooks”: A Psychological Thriller
Kevin Costner’s “Mr. Brooks”: A Psychological Thriller, Brilliantly Delineates Man’s Addiction to Killing!

In line with my previous blog about the nondescript nature of the terrorist mind, I rediscovered a 2007 movie which delineates, in a highly textured dramatic format, the nature of the killing addiction. This addiction can beset a very ordinary, successful, upwardly mobile businessman portrayed by Kevin Costner. Costner [both the lead actor and producer] plays off his superego, William Hurt, when they argue about the psychological benefits of random killing of anonymous persons.

The premise of this dark psychological thriller is that anyone is capable of becoming addicted to killing people—businessmen, drug addicts and even police women [played wonderfully by Demi Moore]. Clearly, I don’t condone any type of killing per se. Yet I also understand, all too well, what the Director Kathy Bigelow [Hurt Locker] wrote on the preface of her war film: “Man is addicted to war!”


One can place any rationale in front of that addiction: religion, nationalism, ideology, or whatever—it really does not matter, man will continue to kill another man because he wants, needs, or is compelled to kill. Neither religion nor psychotherapy [nor drugs] will alleviate that compulsion.

In the film, Costner tries to break his genetic addiction for the need to go out at night and randomly kill someone. I could say that Mr. Brooks is mentally ill. However, many of the mass killers I have admitted to psychiatric hospitals were never really insane [except for legal purposes to keep them out of jail].

Stalin correctly stated that one person’s death is a tragedy but 100 million people dying, as in the span between WWI and WWII,  is a statistic. The military codifies the need for killing; and often, they are not very good at killing in cold blood. The reason: the military wants to affect as many deaths as they can without exposing themselves to harm’s way.

Now, witness the panoply of wars that our young men/women are involved in without any constitutional justification –Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe— It does not matter what the real reason for war is; other than the fact that it must occur periodically, if not perpetually.

Korea was the antecedent of useless wars, wasting lives without any real justification; other than the personal rationale that it was our war. As if each subsequent war from Vietnam onward had a proprietary interest with the corresponding generation of men who wanted to serve, or more importantly, wanted to serve in a death defying experience.We can talk about the adrenalin rush, or the endorphins rushing through the gyri of the brain; but that only provides a subtext to man’s desire and need to kill himself as well as others.

Pacifism is not the antithesis of war-like. It is the enhancer of the recognition that war is necessary by declaring that the pacifist recognizes that obvious truism; but, he/she does not want to be personally harmed by the consequences of war. Pacifism does not address the addiction part of man’s bellicosity. So what can we expect from our future leaders, most of whom have never witnessed the bloody chaos/mayhem of what is ‘considered a moral war’.

I will end with the English clergyman Thomas Fuller’s words:
“We could be cowards, if we had courage enough.”

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