alibi online
Free Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals
 
 V.14 No.19 | May 12 - 18, 2005 

Film Review

Mindhunters

Gory thriller has a good old time killing off its castmembers

“Don’t make me pop a cap in your ass and then write a song about it, sucker.”
“Don’t make me pop a cap in your ass and then write a song about it, sucker.”

Mindhunters

Directed by Renny Harlin

Cast: Kathryn Morris, LL Cool J, Christian Slater, Val Kilmer

When you're sitting in the movie theater throwing Milk Duds down your gullet, it's generally not a good idea to think too hard about what those hardened gobs of sugar are doing to your teeth, your skin, your waistline. Honestly, they're probably not all that good for you. But, as long as you don't linger on the ingredients, they're freakin' delicious. Summer movie season usually asks you to apply the same lack of critical thinking to a host of bombastic Hollywood blockbusters.

Take, for example, director Renny Harlin's new thriller Mindhunters. Is it an exemplary piece of cinema filled with inventive scripting, clever dialogue and Oscar-caliber acting? Good lord, no! But it is, in its own junk food way, damnably entertaining.

Semi-Americanized Finlander Renny Harlin has forged himself an admirable career of keeping his head just above water. His résumé isn't filled with A-list films, but without his concerted efforts, the shelves of Blockbuster would be a lot more bare. Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Deep Blue Sea, Driven and Exorcist: The Beginning are all serviceable cineplex fillers, most of which could have been a hell of a lot worse had it not been for Harlin's more than serviceable skills. Not even the legendary misstep of Cutthroat Island (nearly $100 million to make, nearly $10 million in box office) was enough to derail Harlin's career for long. He's a hack, but he's a damn good hack. I'd put Harlin's talents up against those of a mega-budget moron like Michael Bay any day of the week.

Like a number of Harlin's films, Mindhunters has seen its fair share of behind-the-scenes troubles. Originally set for release in 2003, the film has been bedeviled by reconfigured ad campaigns, multiple re-edits and the current studio meltdown between Disney and Miramax. Nonetheless, it scored itself a fairly sweet release date just ahead of the Star Wars onslaught.

Despite a certain amount of audience trepidation (or, perhaps, because of it), Mindhunters rates as a surprisingly effective gobble-your-popcorn, grab-your-date, scream-cause-it's-fun crime/thriller/horror/action flick.

The film's far-fetched story line has a group of about-to-graduate FBI recruits being sent to a remote island to complete their final “training mission” under the supervision of unorthodox teacher Val Kilmer. (Oh, this ain't gonna turn out good.) Borrowing liberally from Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians (not to mention John Carpenter's paranoid remake of The Thing), the plot has our protagonists being bumped off one by one. Since there's nobody else on the island, one of them must be the killer. A bullet-riddled game of “who do you trust” soon breaks out.

Our recruits are the usual gaggle of stereotypes like the cool leader (Christian Slater), the hot chick (Patricia Velasquez), the good-natured redneck (Eion Bailey), the handsome foreigner (Jonny Lee Miller), the handicapped guy (Clifton Collins, Jr.), the mysterious tough guy (LL Cool J) and the insecure chick with the secret past (Kathryn Morris). All are in training to become FBI profilers and are experts at getting inside the criminal mind. But will their skills be enough to unravel the complex web of clues and unmask the killer in their midst?

The setup is hardly original (or particularly believable), but Harlin races ahead like a runaway steam engine, giving audiences little time to ponder logical gaps. Like a ticking time bomb, Mindhunters ratchets up the thrill level to the bursting point. Stopping just short of the rapid/vapid MTV style, Harlin cobbles together a breathless shock machine that looks great and more than delivers on its promise of thrills, chills and gore galore.

The murders themselves are gruesomely original, with our killer setting up elaborate Rube Goldberg-style traps to mutilate, dismember, ventilate and otherwise cause grievous bodily harm to his/her intended victims. The film's gleefully nasty special effects don't pull any punches and end up making this much more of a gory horror flick than a polite police thriller.

The castmembers, though hardly A-listers, are all effective. The script is loaded with more red herrings than an Oslo fish market, but a few actors emerge as more-or-less-human. Morris supplies bit of drama, Collins scores a few laughs and Slater shows off his suddenly muscular butt. LL Cool J seems to fancy himself an action movie star and insists on spitting out the occasional Arnold Schwarzenegger-style quip--but even that seems like an amusing nod to those late-'80s nostalgists in the audience.

Armed with a bottomless bucket of popcorn and a bladder-busting orange soda, you could do worse than spending a hot summer night in the mindlessly entertaining company of this “CSI”-meets-Friday the 13th thriller.

Today's Events

Indie Q at the KiMo at KiMo Theatre

Join in for a free screening of locally made films.

Dance Film: Cuban Fury at National Hispanic Cultural Center

Tomorrow's Events

The Phantom of the Opera (1943) at KiMo Theatre

More Recommented Events ››
Join our mailing list for exclusive info, the week's events and free stuff!
 

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • alibi.com
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Rocksquawk Discussions
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Del.icio.us Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.
    Low Life Happy Hour x2!
    Low Life Happy Hour x2!8.22.2014