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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.35%
Worth A Look: 15.22%
Just Average52.17%
Pretty Crappy: 15.22%
Sucks: 13.04%

5 reviews, 16 user ratings

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by The Ultimate Dancing Machine

"A miracle: it doesn't suck...much"
3 stars

For a film that (1) sat on the shelf quite a long time and (2) is directed by Renny Harlin, MINDHUNTERS turns out to be a pleasant, or at least faintly acceptable surprise. Here we have a watchable confection that skirts on the edge of absurdity for much of its running time, but with movies like this the near-silliness of it all is part of the appeal. I mean, it's certainly true that real serial killers tend to whack people with relatively less fuss and elaboration than they do here, but isn't it just more fun when the psycho sets up all these intricate deathtraps that go off with the precision of a Swiss watch?

The kinda Agatha Christie-ish scenario puts a pack of FBI profilers-in-training on a remote island for a training exercise. Their mission is to solve a fictional murder, but things turn real when an unseen killer begins picking them off one by one. And as they're the only persons on the island, it soon becomes clear that one of them is behind it.

If nothing else, MINDHUNTERS does provide some memorably grisly kill scenes, due to those human-mousetrap set-ups alluded to earlier. Like all such mechanically inclined movie killers, the mystery psycho here is something of a engineering genius, capable of rigging elaborate murder devices that never fail to function as intended. Furthermore, he/she has an uncanny knack of ensuring that the intended victim is always standing in exactly the wrong place.

There are in fact quite a few elements that don't hold up well if you feel obliged to apply real world logic. Once you think about it, the killer must have had very little time to set these things up, given that they also had to hang around with the group long enough to participate in those finger pointing scenes we always get in movies like this, where everybody thinks everybody else is the killer. So how did he/she have time to create that first deathtrap, which is triggered by an arrangement of dominoes (the proper use of which requires time and patience) unwisely knocked over? And let's not even go into the sleeping-pill scene, where a handful of characters are simultaneously drugged unconscious, and miraculously wake up later at virtually the same moment.

But I think the improbabilities of MINDHUNTERS are less due to incompetence than design. Harlin's having fun with the material. I counted no fewer than three variations of the Mexican Standoff Scene, the last taking place--a scene that deserves some mention for its crackbrained audacity--underwater. He has an eye for grimy, vivid detail, and enough cinema sense to keep the pace rolling zippily enough you don't have time to dwell on the logic problems. As for the killer's identity, it's not a terribly ingenious twist, but at least they play reasonably fair with the clues, so that it's actually possible to make an educated guess.

Too bad we then have to sit through that hoary old trope, The Talking Killer. You know, the scene they poked fun at in THE INCREDIBLES, the killer explaining everything and more to someone they plan on offing moments later anyway. Here, the Talking Killer Speech is so goofy it almost comes off like parody--and if that's another case of Harlin having fun with his material, it doesn't work.

The cast isn't especially notable, though it's only fair to point out that there probably wasn't much to be done with these cookie-cutter roles (The Fiery Latina, The Tough Black Guy, etc.). But nor does anyone embarrass themselves.

MINDHUNTERS is the sort of movie that you praise according to what it is not--that is, not bad, not unwatchable, not the worst movie Renny Harlin has inflicted upon us. And not a bad way to spend two hours if you don't expect much.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12181&reviewer=223
originally posted: 11/15/05 06:40:29
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User Comments

5/04/08 Jack Sommersby No great shakes, but it's capable and involving. 3 stars
8/05/07 Jeff Anderson Pretty good as these films go & Harlin as usual stages some nifty scenes! LL's a standout!! 4 stars
12/15/06 Jim Utter claptrap, with the only high point being underwater Mexican standoff at the end. 2 stars
5/18/06 drydock54321 nice action scenes 3 stars
1/16/06 Croatoa_100 Good writting but, it tried too hard to be like Renny Harlin's earlier films...!!!!!!!!!!!! 3 stars
12/21/05 Agent Sands Typical but entertaining. Kilmer needed more screen time to support the mediocre cast. 4 stars
11/17/05 MrsVoorheesBabyBoy Great Twists 4 stars
11/15/05 Kaleigh Lattus I thought it was really good because it kept me guessing through the whole film 4 stars
10/25/05 chris fox (the god) reasonable film 4 stars
7/03/05 ALDO good action...keeps you involved....worth watching 4 stars
7/03/05 Marcia Lartz 2 become soul survivors of a group that were -- uh, what the heck WERE they doing? 3 stars
6/15/05 adrian ace must see movie, lacking in the end but over all not a waste of time 4 stars
5/25/05 it A great film 5 stars
5/13/05 Mider Good stuff 5 stars
5/13/05 Burton Bathrick good 3 stars
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  13-May-2005 (R)
  DVD: 20-Sep-2005



Directed by
  Renny Harlin

Written by
  Wayne Kramer
  Kevin Brodbin

  Christian Slater
  LL Cool J
  Val Kilmer
  Eion Bailey
  Will Kemp
  Jonny Lee Miller

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