Starring: Christian Slater, Val Kilmer, LL Cool J, Jonny Lee Miller, Kathyrn Morris
Director: Renny Harlin
“Mindhunters” is exactly the kind of nonsensical film filth you’d expect to see among the group of early bird releases in the beginning of the year, so it surprises me that it was let loose in a summer season filled with blockbuster giants and big-budget spectacles. It doesn’t really help that it’s been collecting dust for nearly two years, and now as part of Dimension’s corporate divorce from MiramAxe/Disney, the mindless thriller has been dumped in a season where it has little chance to compete. Not that it really matters though, because “Mindhunters” is a general waste of time for anyone other than fans of the mystery-horror genre, complete with a slapdash script spoiled even further by its cast of B-list actors.
A group of seven elite FBI profilers are sent to a remote island by their over-ambitious instructor (Val Kilmer) to take place in a training simulation that has them tracking down a make-believe serial killer nicknamed “The Puppeteer.” After one of the agents is suddenly murdered in what is supposed to be a harmless exercise, the remaining students look to one another as the only possible suspects on the island, while the killer’s traps continue to slowly eliminate the cocky group of profiler wannabes. The premise for the film is almost a gimme – practically stolen right from the pages of an Agatha Christie novel - and our heroes quickly become sitting ducks (there is even a reference to ducks on the island) as they await their inevitable fate.
It’s true the film is a whodunit thriller, but at its heart, “Mindhunters” is more like a horror flick, utilizing the kind of crafty death traps you would ordinarily find in the “Final Destination” series, but without all of the gore. It also follows another key horror genre trait in that almost every movie character cliché is realized within the group of seven, including the overconfident leader (Christian Slater), the fishy outcast (LL Cool J) and the girl-in-distress (Kathryn Morris) who is so unreliable, she’s the obvious heroine of the film. The cast is actually made up of a decent mix of film veterans and B-list up-and-comers, but the script is atrocious, making it near impossible for them not to look bad doing their best with what little they’ve been given.
The script is filled with far more plot holes than probably should be allowed in the average thriller, and director Renny Harlin gets away with them simply because the audience doesn’t really know what mistakes he’s made until after the identity of the killer is revealed. It was a pleasure to see Jonny Lee Miller make his way back on to the big screen, but “Mindhunters” just doesn’t offer enough smarts or scares to impress the summer moviegoer looking for big explosions, big names and pretty girls.
It's amazing at how much work goes into box office flops on their way to DVD, and the single-disc release of "Mindhunters" is the perfect example. Here's a movie that didn't get much publicity, didn't receive many good ratings, and didn't make very much money, and yet still delivers a mediocre DVD for its fans. Easily the best feature on the disc is the audio commentary with director Renny Harlin, but there's also a few production featurettes worth checking out, but not worth mentioning.