*** (out of 5)
May 13, 2005
Christian Slater as J.D. RESTON
Kathryn Morris as SARA MOORE
LL Cool J as GABE JENSEN
Johnny Lee Miller as LUCAS HARPER
Val Kilmer as JAKE HARRIS
Directed by: Renny Harlin
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I love Renny Harlin. I’ve always loved Renny Harlin. I even love his notoriously bad movies like “Cutthroat Island” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight.” I’ve loved him ever since he tried his hand at the Freddy Krueger franchise in the 1980s.
Sure, he pretty much makes crap. When your best films are “Die Hard 2” and “Cliffhanger,” you don’t want to start writing your Oscar speech anytime soon. Still, I love his films. He’s one of the best hacks in the business, right up there with Paul Verhoeven and Paul W.S. Anderson.
So, in evaluating any Renny Harlin film, I’m generally kinder than most. Keep that in mind when (and if) you see “Mindhunters” based on my testimony.
This film has sat on the shelf for years. It was shot back in 2002. In fact, Val Kilmer made this movie before he shot “Wonderland,” which I watched on DVD years ago. It’s been released everywhere else in the world (so if you were in the Czech Republic a few years ago, you had a chance to see it long before today).
Finally, it’s getting its shot in the states. I don’t know what kept “Mindhunters” in this perpetual limbo for so long. It really isn’t that bad.
In fact, when you consider it a movie that no one knew what to do with, it’s actually pretty decent.
The film tells the story of a group of FBI profiler trainees. They’re being taught by veteran agent Jake Harris (Kilmer), who’s notorious for his unorthodox techniques. One weekend, Harris takes the group to deserted island on a training exercise. However, when people start dying, it becomes clear that they have become pawns in a killer’s game.
This film is billed as a thriller, but it’s really more of an action piece than anything else. There’s enough stuff going on to keep it from being boring, but it does deteriorate into wisecracks and silly dialogue a little too often. Don’t look for plot intricacies to rival “Se7en.” Instead, look for a retread of “Deep Blue Sea” without the sharks.
I have to say this about the film: I never got bored. Oh, there’s some lines in there that would make the Pope weep, but taken as a rinky-dink little action film, I can forgive that.
The cast is interesting. They’re not particularly good, just interesting. There’s enough almost-names to make a decent title card, including Christian Slater, Johnny Lee Miller and LL Cool J. Kathryn Morris headlines the cast as Sara, an agent doubtful of her own abilities. However, she’s not particularly compelling and is quickly overshadowed by the hack actors and hack director on set.
When all is revealed at the end of the film, things are a bit corny and dripping with cliches, but it’s nothing you haven’t had to choke down in other Hollywood mid-level action flicks.
“Mindhunters” is decent as far as Renny Harlin flicks go. That doesn’t mean it’s great… just decent. And that’s keeping in mind I’m a Renny Harlin fan. Still, at least it’s better than Harlin’s last film, that dreadful “Exorcist” prequel.