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|“||Before I was the Thumbprint Killer, Mr. Smith, I killed a lot of people, in a lot of different ways.||„|
|~ Earl Brooks|
Earl Brooks is the main antagonist of the 2007 psychological thriller film, Mr. Brooks.
He was portrayed by Kevin Costner.
Earl Brooks is a family man - happily married to his wife Emma, with whom he has a teenage daughter, Jane - and runs a successful box-making business in Portland, Oregon. He is also a serial killer who murders couples while they have sex, often at the behest of Marshall, his imaginary alter ego and the personification of his Id. He is nicknamed "The Thumbprint Killer" because it is part of his pathology to leave his victims' thumbprints at the murder scene. He then meticulously cleans up the scene to remove incriminating evidence.
He abstains from murder for two years, dealing with his homicidal urges by going to 12-step meetings and talking vaguely about his "addiction". On the night Brooks is awarded the Portland Chamber of Commerce's "Man of the Year" award, however, Marshall goads him into "celebrating" by killing a young couple.
The next morning, Brooks goes to work and finds a visitor in his office: a peeping tom calling himself "Mr. Smith" who photographed him killing the couple, and who threatens to go to the police unless Brooks takes him along on a murder. Brooks reluctantly agrees, and begins teaching Smith how to select and stalk a victim. Brooks learns that he is pursued by a detective named Tracy Atwood, and comes to respect her for her ingenuity and work ethic.
Meanwhile, Jane arrives at her parents' house, having dropped out of college, and announces that she is pregnant. The Brookses are then visited by detectives from Palo Alto who want to interview Jane about a murder committed in her former dorm building. Marshall and Brooks realize that Jane committed the murder, and Brooks fears that she has inherited his "addiction". He and Marshall 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 realizes that he will never be able to stop killing, and decides - over Marshall's furious objections - to kill himself to spare his family the shame of his inevitable arrest.
Brooks learns that Atwood is in the middle of an agonizing divorce from Jesse Vialo. Brooks decides that Vialo and his lawyer, Sheila, will be Smith's first victims. At the scene of the Vialo murder, Smith wets himself with excitement as Brooks kills Vialo and Sheila. Smith turns on Brooks, who tells him that the DNA he left at Vialo's apartment will make him the prime suspect in the murders, and that the only way out is to persuade the police that Brooks made him do it. Brooks explains that he has decided to allow Smith to kill him. They go to a cemetary Brooks owns, where Brooks instructs Smith to shoot him and let his body fall into an open grave; the following day, a casket will be lowered into the grave and covered, and Brooks' body will never be discovered.
At the last minute, however, Smith's gun jams, and Brooks says that he had broken into Smith's apartment and bent the firing pin on the off chance that he would change his mind. He then says that he wants to live to see the birth of his grandchild, and kills Smith by bludgeoning him with a shovel. He covers Smith's body, and allows him to posthumously take the blame for Brooks' murders. The following day, he tells a skeptical Marshall that he is never going to kill again. He steals a cell phone and calls Atwood, pretending to be Smith, and asks her why she became a police officer. She replies that she has spent her whole life trying to prove her wealthy, unloving father wrong, further winning Brooks' respect. He hangs up and destroys the phone before she can trace the call.
That night, Brooks has a nightmare in which Jane murders him, suggesting that he is afraid Jane will become like him.