POST #10: Movie Review: Mindhunters (2004)

I think they're hunting out of need.

Mindhunters (2004)

Starring: Val Kilmer, LL Cool J, Christian Slater, Jonny Lee Miller, Eion Bailey, Will Kemp, Patricia Velasquez, Kathryn Morris, Clifton Collins Jr., Will Kemp

Directed By: Renny Harlin

If you listened to my voice post, you’d know that I started watching this when my wife turned it on. Even though I said it was terrible, I decided to keep watching it after she went to bed, so I figured I should share my thoughts.

Basically, Mindhunters is a horrifically terrible movie, full of every serial killer cliche possible, wooden acting, ridiculous set-ups, and an intrusive, pulsing score that tries to drum up suspense when the paper-thin script and hacky directing can’t. It really can’t be stated enough how bad a movie it is, and how embarrassing it is to anyone wishing for a quality thriller.

But… at the same time, it’s incredibly watchable and not boring in the slightest (well, other than the boredom that comes from watching the contrived). It’s not quite a movie that’s so bad-it’s-good, but it is a bad movie that might be fun to watch amongst friends, especially if you’re all feeling frisky and nobody minds laughing over the film. Hack extraordinaire Renny Harlin brings his experience with these kind of movies to the fore, making a terrible movie watchable for the simple reason that it never stops moving. The whole thing feels like a straight to DVD by-the-numbers thriller, and I’m surprised it wasn’t, given that it was delayed for two years prior to its release.

The movie tells the story of seven FBI trainees attempting to become profilers. As part of their training, they are shipped off by their instructor (Val Kilmer) to an island where a training exercise has been set up for them in a simulated environment. They’re supposed to profile a killer on the island with staged killings of dummies. But things aren’t what they seem (they never are), and the recruits quickly find themselves victims of a real killer, who is intent on picking them all off one by one through a series of elaborate death traps.

Basically, it’s Saw with less gore, with the high concept of having profilers having to succeed in their training or perish. The death traps are patently ridiculous, as are the reactions and shots (awesomely, the characters dramatically pull their guns on each other several times). The feel of the movie bears a strong resemblance to Harlin’s Deep Blue Sea, another terrible movie made watchable by its pace and the thrill of seeing a lousy cast get offed one by one. The whole time you’re watching, you’re acutely aware of how dumb it is, but can’t help but keep watching to see who will bite it next, and how silly their offing will be.

LL Cool J tries to be the Samuel L. Jackson character in this one, delivering the big lines with disbelief. But he doesn’t get as fun a scene as Jackson did in Deep Blue Sea, having to settle for lame puns in the face of danger instead of fiery speeches. Eion Bailey actually exhibits some appeal (probably the only actor to do so), showing that he has enough charisma and screen presence to be doing better things than this. He might not be big enough for a movie career, but I could see him as an affable leading man on a TV series. Everyone else is merely an empty cypher to further along the plot, interchangeable and unmemorable.

There really isn’t any reason to watch this movie, so I definitely don’t recommend it. In fact, it’s probably best to not watch it at all, because if you start, you probably won’t be able to tear away from it, even though it really is terrible. At the same time, while it will add nothing of value to your life, it didn’t really take anything out of me either. Probably the best terrible movie I’ve seen in awhile.


Related Reviews:
After the Sunset (2004)
The Black Dahlia (2006)
From Hell (2001)

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