Since I’ve been more or less reviewing films on a freelance basis, I’ve sort of been out of the
loop in terms of production histories. I don’t get to read the trade papers on a regular basis and I’m
not as informed as I might like to be. So when I’d ventured out to the movie theaters recently, I got
to see several trailers for films, one of which was MINDHUNTERS. The preview made the film look
exciting and piqued my interest, so when the opportunity to attend a screening arose, I was psyched
to spend a couple of hours being entertained. Well, this just goes to show you that even a reviewer
can be duped. While not the worst film I’ve seen in while, it would take some doing to top
ALONE IN THE DARK, MINDHUNTERS isn’t quite the thriller I was hoping for either.
The film opens with an elaborate training exercise involving J.D. (Christian Slater) and
Sara (Kathryn Morris), who are simulating the tracking of a kidnapper-serial killer of young girls.
Making a crucial mistake, Sara ends up getting the agents “killed,” and she’s chastised by their
instructor (Val Kilmer). Nevertheless, she is asked to participate with her six other classmates in
a final exam on an island that doubles as a military base. At the last minute, the group is joined
by a mysterious police officer (rapper-turned-actor LL Cool J, here credited as James Todd Smith).
What is supposed to be a training exercise, though, soon turns into a real-life deadly game of
As the trainees are picked off one by one, the remaining group must learn to work together
until they can determine who the real killer is. Along the way, there are a series of red herrings, meant
to keep both the characters and the audience on guard. Part of the problem, though, is that as the field
of potential killers is winnowed, the screenplay takes a few turns that don’t make any sense. Reportedly,
there were several endings shot and tested in screenings, so that may account for some of the confusion.
Some of it may also stem from the screenplay credited to Wayne Kramer (director and co-writer of
THE COOLER) and Kevin Brodbin (co-writer of CONSTANTINE). Finally, some of the problems
may be attributed to director Renny Harlin, whose resume is littered with films that did not live up
In addition to the aforementioned actors, the principal cast includes Patricia Velasquez,
Jonny Lee Miller, Will Kemp, Eion Bailey and Clifton Collins Jr. Each makes a valiant attempt but
a few have so little screen time that they barely register. This is a case of a group of reasonably fine
actors trapped by a bad script and mediocre direction. MINDHUNTERS has an intriguing premise,
but it just doesn’t deliver on it.
MPAA Rating: R for violence/strong graphic images, language
and sexual content
Running time: 106 mins.
|© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.