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Mindhunters Movie Review

originally posted many years ago

Mindhunters is a cheese, through and through but sometimes cheese can be fun when made well and served with the right cast. In a clear return to his action film roots the king of action cheese himself, Renny Harlin, takes a well written script and actually does quite well this turn out. With a decent cast and some good twists, this was a fun film to watch and something suspense fans will get a kick out of, especially if they love a movie that teases the audience at every turn. While the outcome was a little cliche, I couldn't help but enjoy this film as it clearly went out of its way to keep the audience guessing until the very last minute, and believe me... you will not know who it us until there is only like ten to seven minutes left. If you're into those kind of movies and are not impressed with the other films currently showing at your local cineplex, then this movie might be worth a go. It's got enough suspense to make it something fun to take in with a bag of popcorn. While it's not something that will blow you away, it's enough to keep you highly entertained for a good two hours.

The film if anything had an interesting premise. A handful of FBI students trying to make it as a Serial Killer profile are dropped on a deserted island by their less than sane teacher. The point is to isolate them away from the world and force them to concentrate on the task at hand... something their professor says they must do in their head every time the examine a crime scene. Once on the island, the game becomes one of cat and mouse when they discover that the killer they're looking for is among their group, and they have to use whatever means they have to narrow down the field before everyone of them is killed. I thought it was an interesting idea, and while some scenes were poorly executed, the story overall seemed to fit and make for some good popcorn action. I like the aspect that the characters were playing off each other's paranoia. When they arrived to the island they all seemed like good friends, but when people started dying and everyone became a suspect... it was fun to watch as loyalties when out the window without hesitation. The plot itself, while a little unoriginal in some parts, was fresh and well written as each character was distinct and very three-dimensional. Writing clearly makes or breaks movies, and here it made something that might have been regular or below average something much better.
What made this film work for me the most was its cast and how the managed to bring each character out quite nicely. This film had a rather nice ensemble, and that lead to some interesting second guessing as the film went on. You were never really sure who was the hero and who was the villain and you have to give props to the cast and the director for making this work. I've always been a big fan of Johnny Lee Miller (Trainspotting) and him, along with L.L. Cool J (Deep Blue Sea) made for some very interesting scenes. Yet it was the work of Kathryn Morris (from TV's "Cold Case") that impressed me the most. She managed to make a very convincing performance in the face of her other cast mates who are a little better known than her. There were some other good casting as Val Kilmer and Christian Slater has some very small yet good contributing roles in the film. I'll let you know this much, watching Slater suffer a brutal and what seems to be a very painful death is alone worth the price of admission… for me everything else just seemed to be a bonus. There was a moment when both L.L. Cool J and Miller has some full blown 'save the day' hero scenes, but that might have been done on purpose to intentionally confuse the audience. Everything seemed to almost be made to cause confusion, and for that everyone was pretty much left in the dark until the very, very end.

Coming back to his grisly suspense/horror roots that he helped bloom in the early nineties with his early films, Renny Harlin might not be the classiest filmmaker around, but he knows how deliver a good thrill. To toss in an English Soccer metaphor, Harlin is like the Newcastle of the film industry. From film to film, you never know what you're going to get from him. It could be a kick ass action film (Die Hard II, Cliffhanger), something good with occasional humor (Ford Fairlane, Long Kiss Goodnight) or films that are complete and utter crap (Exorcist IV, Cutthroat Island). Whenever you walk into a movie by Harlin, you are literally rolling the dice with your money. This time out, it's hard for Harlin to mess up cause he's got a great script and a good cast to work with this time out. Combined with Harlin's skill in created a really intense moment, the film works and makes this movie that I will consider to be one of his better films. Mindhunters clearly works to Harlin's strengths as it pulses with confidence and oozes with style, even if the story or the person behind the camera have literally no clue how to figure this thing out.

Overall, Mindhunters is a good piece of popcorn action that is easy to get into if you're in the mood for one of those 'everyone is a suspect' kind of mind screwing kind of film. I myself am very familiar with the genre and have watched many films like that and when it was all said and done, I had a hard time pinning down the real killer. They did an exceptional job at using the confusion of the film and the character to keep the killer's true identity a secret. This film is a fun thrill ride, with a decent cast and story that will tease anyone enough to make it a fun and enjoyable moviegoing experience. If you're in the mood to check out something like that, I would recommend giving it a go if you're not in the mood to check out medieval epics or the latest Jennifer Lopez chick flick. It's not a masterpiece (far from it) but you can tell it's a hardworking thriller that earns its props. So toss some extra butter on your popcorn, sit down, and play the game of who you think the killer is. Trust me, you'll have a good time…

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