by Chris Wood
There’s a reason when they push a film’s release back a whole year.
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How much can you learn from just looking at a person? What habits do they have? What are their goals/aspirations? In the Federal Bureau of Investigations Professor Jake Harris (Val Kilmer, Wonderland, Spartan) teaches an advanced and very hands on class for psychological profilers - investigators who specialize in the art of observation to assist in tracking serial killers. These specialists are called: Mindhunters (2004).
The movie opens with J.D. Reston (Christian Slater, Windtalkers, Very Bad Things) and his partner Sara Moore (Kathryn Harris, Paycheck, Minority Report) approaching a creepy and desolate home down a dirt road in the dead of night. After confirming they are at the right location they call for back up. But then there are screams coming from within the abode so the pair runs into the ram-shackled dwelling, pistols drawn. They get to the basement and find two girls in an empty bathtub, dead, and the alleged assailant sitting on a chair across the room with a shotgun on his lap - also dead. But then, from behind Sara, a second killer lurks then lunges at her with a knife that would have Paul Hogan of “Crocodile Dundee” saying, “krike!” Sara is stabbed and the killer then starts shooting at J.D. while holding her in a headlock. J.D. returns fire and basically it’s a Greek tragedy - i.e. everyone dies.
The dust settles and there’s quiet. Then Sara actually gets back up! So does J.D. and then the killer. Apparently, the whole thing was just a training exercise. Good one!
Now, back at H.Q., Harris informs the seven members of his class about their final training exercise: To spend a weekend on a secluded island with a murder scenario - their mission being to discover the killer. But once on the island the game turns real and the seven classmates will have to rely on their training in order to survive and discover the killer…It could even be one of them! Yikes, eek and jeepers, even!
Seems like a good concept for a movie, right? And certainly in the beginning there was interest, but once on the island Mindhunters seemed to turn, unintentionally, into a comedy. Audible laughs filled the movie theater at points in the film where the intension could not have possibly been humor. Example: Classmate on said island, Vince Sherman (Clifton Collins Jr., Tigerland, Traffic) who is in a wheelchair, at a point during the picture, is hanging from a water pipe, dangling. Below him, a hallway filling with water and live electrical wires submerged in the H2O. Certain death for little Shermy! As he hangs on, Gabe Jenson (LL Cool J, SWAT, Deep Blue Sea) rushes to cut the power. He does just as Sherman loses his grip and falls. Sherman, flapping in the shallow water, screams, “I’m alive, I’m alive!” And that’s when the audience laughed, but it was not the first or last time it happened.
The acting was basically awful and the writing was hackneyed to say the least. How many times can someone say things like: “Hold on, hold on!” or “We have to think!” Then there was the traditional bad horror movie ending where the “bad guy” is exposed and thought to have been dealt with but, “Oh no!” they’re not dead yet.
However, what was most - and I mean most disturbing - was that these were seven F.B.I specialists trained by supposedly the best profiler in the world and yet they are all clueless and hyper. Once they all manage to get their hands on guns there was a plethora of “quick draw” stand off scenes in which two characters point their guns and say things like, “I know it’s you, man!” and “I’ll do it, I’ll do it!” Sure you will, Popeye.
Christian Slater made the best decision in this movie (and this is a spoiler) by getting killed first and early on in the movie. Also, Kilmer’s role was basically a cameo, so any big fans of Val don’t expect to see him much.
The movie couldn’t decide what it wanted to be - an intelligent thriller (not bloody likely), horror or comedy-like. So the amalgamate of elements rejected each other leaving viewers with littler more than a pocketful of special effects and a shot of Christian Slater’s butt - if that’s your thing (I’d rather eat my own foot). Put it another way: imagine that you’re “the one” from the Matrix and then pretend that the movie, Mindhunters, is a bullet heading straight for you, via evil agents. Do what ya gotta do!
Post Script: I’m not one to usually bash a movie so much, but it really was that bad.
Chris Wood is one of our NY area staff.
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