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Mindhunters (2004)

For seven elite profilers, finding a serial killer is a process of elimination. Their own.

Directed by:

Renny Harlin

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 101 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

Country: United States, Netherlands, United Kingdom

‘Mindhunters’ is one of those movies that introduces us to a bunch of people, puts them all together in a location they can’t get out of, and gradually starts killing them off one-by-one. We’ve seen it all before, right? Wrong, actually – because it might be an old formula, but here writer Wayne Kramer and director Renny Harlin have come up with an inventive new spin which is virtually guaranteed to grab you by the danglies and hold you right there until the credits roll at the end of the 100-or-so minutes.

What’s so different about it? Well, top of the list is the way it pisses straight into the eyes of all sneering cinema-going second-guessers. Given the scenario – eight FBI criminal profilers are placed on a remote island for a training exercise which turns out to be all too real – you’d expect the grisly procession of deaths to fall predictably in order of cast importance. Refreshingly though, ‘Mindhunters’ is a flick with no interest in following such rules. Sure, it has its flaws – but predictability isn’t one of them.

Among the characters led into this team building trip from Hell are cock-sure leader-type J.D. (Christian Slater), nice-but-dim Sara (Kathryn Morris), wheelchair-bound Vince (Clifton Collins Jr.) and potty-mouthed outsider Gabe (LL Cool J). They’ve all been instructed by supervisor Harris (a rarely-seen Val Kilmer) to keep their wits about them but, as a series of gruesome traps laid by an unknown foe begin to take their toll, paranoia sinks in fast and everyone becomes a suspect. Who can the baddie be? It’s fun trying to work it out, but if you’re anything like me (which admittedly means you’re probably a little bit slow when it comes to working out this sort of stuff) then you probably won’t manage it.

Twists are two-a-penny in Hollywood nowadays, but this is one of those rare and enjoyable occasions where the deliberate surprises actually work. It sets its stall out right from the word go with a nice little plot-turn, and around about the half-hour mark there’s a major shock which I can guarantee you won’t see coming. It’s like that right up until the end and, though it has to lose marks for some lousy dialogue and less-than-brilliant acting, I can’t help but recommend it.

It's Got: Lots of cats, some of which are more lively than others.

It Needs: Someone to tell LL Cool J that he should have auditioned for ‘The Crystal Maze’ – there’s one particular scene where he proves he would have been brilliant on it.

Alternatives:

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Summary

If you’re after an entertaining crime-horror with more surprises than a catering-size box of Kinder Eggs, make sure you hunt this one down.

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