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  Publicity Stills of "Mindhunters"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Genre: Thriller
Director: Renny Harlin
Starring: Val Kilmer, LL Cool J, Christian Slater, Eion Bailey, Clifton Collins Jr., Jonny Lee Miller
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: NC-16 (Some Gory Scenes)

Opening Day: 14 July 2005

Synopsis :

FBI psychological profilers, also known as "mindhunters," use a remote island to train seven of their newest members. But when one of the new trainees turns out to be a serial killer, their skills are put to the test, as suspicion and fear sets in.

Movie Review:

For a film that has been shelved for closed to one year after the final cut, what genius could we expect from the movie?

Looking at the plot - Instructor for aspiring FBI Serial Killer profilers, Jake Harris (Val Kilmer) stranded seven recruits on an offshore island training facilities, to solve a mock up serial killing, as the final test prior to their graduation. The outing was also intended to challenge their inner-demons and weaknesses to determine whether each are “up to the mark”: The recruit’s leader, J.D. Reston (Christian Slater) always doubted Harris rationality behind each exercises; His lover cum teammates, Nicole Willis (Patricia Velasquez), has numerous futile attempts to giving up puffing; Sara Moore (Kathryn Morris), who tragic past makes her overwhelmed at the sight of water; Vince Sherman (Clifton Collins Jr.), who can’t live without his wheelchair and handgun; Lucas Harper (Jonny Lee Miller), adamant of his tough guy attitude; Bobby Whitman (Eion Bailey) is a technical fanatics and Rafe Perry (Will Kemp) doesn’t play well with others. As Harris has long been questioned by the top commands on his twisted methods of training, Gabe Jenson (LL Cool J) was entrusted as the “Observer” of the exercise. Soon, the test turns out to be more than meet the eyes, with recruits fell one after the other by a mysterious “Puppeteer”, who they only knew to be highly obsessive with time. It doesn’t take long for the surviving apprentice to realise that the killer is actually among them! Question is: Which one?

For the movie, the director has assembled a good list of casts. However, the many characters in the movie leave each celebrity little screen time to display their craft. In fact, the sadistic brutality, which well deserved the NC-16 ratings, seems to have taken center stage that what the casts did in front of the camera were neglected. Probably the only decent performance could be from LL Cool J although the background of his character was vague and incomprehensible throughout.

While the casts may be disappointing, Director Remy Harlin (“Die Harder”, “Cliffhanger”) on the contrary, proven his position as an “A” list director by generating a high volume of suspense whenever required. To better enhance the chaos and suspicious experienced by the protagonists, Harlin freaked out the audience with lots of shadow flashed suddenly across the frame, making one wink fearfully to look around every corner of the scene. Such techniques though may be overly used by most films of the same genre, continue to works well here, creating much amount of thrills and chills. Another credible filming style in the movie is the camera position itself in a way that makes you feel like you are looking from the perspective of the killer, watching your prey every move!

Unfortunately, like its characters, the strength (of direction) is at the same time its weakness. It is not an easy task for the audience to figure out who the killer is because the director deliberately presented the cast(s) as if they were guilty. The game of prediction is “unfair”, gradually confusing, and then losing the interest of audience. As a result, the final “revelation” became un-witty. The great potential of an unusual conclusion busted as the scriptwriter took an easy way out on the explanation of the massacre. No, I am not give away anything here, but trust me, it all too atypical.

In spite of the many complaints above, strangely, the film still has me drilled to my seat, making the runtime of 105 minutes past effortlessly. Maybe, I expect nothing out from it or maybe I am still hanging over to old schools like “Seven” or “The Usual Suspects”. If you are in my camp, Mindhunters is still a serial killer movie for you.

Movie Rating:

Review by Leosen Teo


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