Mindhunters (2005)
Mindhunters (2005)

Genre: Thriller and Crime Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 46 min.

Release Date: May 13th, 2005 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Renny Harlin Actors: Val Kilmer, Christian Slater, Kathryn Morris, LL Cool J, Will Kemp, Clifton Collins Jr., Eion Bailey, Jonny Lee Miller, Patricia Velasquez, Cassandra Bell




agents Sara Moore (Kathryn Morris) and J.D. Reston (Christian Slater) are tasked with scouring several dark, deserted roads in Virginia to look for clues concerning a serial killer who has gruesomely slaughtered a number of women. Stopping off at a large yet seemingly abandoned house, the two discover a freshly re-painted car adorned with a new license plate, suggesting that this house belongs to the suspect. And when screams are heard from upstairs, they call for backup and burst through the front door. As it turns out, the victims are actually located downstairs – and the house, along with the bodies, the perpetrator, and the video cameras, are a set-up for training purposes. And supervisor Jake Harris (Val Kilmer) isn’t impressed.

At Quantico, Harris reviews footage and explains all the things that Moore and Reston did wrong. Although there’s no reason to celebrate, the two of them, along with the rest of their elite crew of profilers, wind down at a bar that evening. Bobby Whitman (Eion Bailey), Rafe Perry (Will Kemp), Lucas Harper (Jonny Lee Miller), Nicole Willis (Patricia Velasquez), and Vince Sherman (Clifton Collins Jr.) round out the group, which must prepare for a final, weekend-long training exercise on the remote Oniega Island – promising to include hostage scenarios, a serial killer (nicknamed the “Puppeteer”), and lots of mystery. And joining them at the last minute is Philadelphia Police Department Detective Gabe Jensen (LL Cool J), who comes along strictly as an observer.

The well-equipped island, boasting lots of amenities and state-of-the-art equipment, is designed to create isolation, specifically so that the agents can get a feel for the fictional sociopath at the heart of their mission. But, just when the investigators get comfortable joking around, profiling one another, and making small talk concerning the upcoming events, a real serial killer begins to kill off the participants. Could it be a sadistic stowaway? Or one of the agents?

Based on the opening sequence, which was an overly elaborate false alarm, viewers will likely get the sense that everything occurring on Oniega could be part of Harris’ unorthodox simulation techniques. Even when distressingly graphic crime scenes are staged, the characters behave insincerely. But it’s difficult to ignore the accruing bodies. Unfortunately, the very first death is designed so poorly – employing unconvincing computer graphics – that the entire premise becomes plagued by a lack of realism. It doesn’t help that the island is used by the Navy, and therefore contains lots of heavy-duty weaponry locked away in an area that the survivors locate quite easily.

“You got me all wrong.” While attempting to solve the case, paranoia kicks in, spreading distrust and panic. The film may be modernized and riddled with extreme violence, but it’s clearly a derivation of “Ten Little Indians” (or “And Then There Were None”). In many ways, “Mindhunters” plays out like a slasher film, not only due to the bloodshed (derived mainly from complex traps, coincidentally lining up with the production of “Saw”) but also in the steady removal of characters (akin to “April Fool’s Day”). Unfortunately, every subsequent death scene grows more comical than the last – and goofy rather than frightening, especially with the CG. When the team uses their profiling, laboratory proficiency, and forensic evidence-gathering skills for a single scene with a hokey DNA test, the film appears ridiculous, as if the profession was previously unrelated or an unnecessary detail. At least there’s suspense from the guessing game, though the big reveal is underwhelming and unconvincing; too many contrived things take place for any of this to make much sense.

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10