Last week I wrote a post for Spinoff about how Renny Harlin (Cliffhanger, Die Hard 2) might be directing an upcoming Jackie Chan movie called Skiptrace and it got me thinking about the director’s more recent work. As it happened, earlier that week I was flipping through the new Netflix releases and came across a movie of his called Mindhunters that sounded like it had a cool psychological thriller vibe to go along with a cast packed with names from the 90s and familiar That Guys and Gals from all over. It seemed like a good convergence of whathaveyou, so I gave it a watch and had a pretty good time with it.
As I mentioned, the first thing that drew me to this movie was the cast. You’ve got Christian Slater, Val Kilmer, Jonny Lee Miller and LL Cool J, but also that guy from Pacific Rim and Capote (Clifton Collins Jr.), the woman from Cold Case (Kathryn Morris), the woman who played the mummy-lady in the first two Mummy remakes (Patricia Velasquez) and the guy from Once Upon A Time and Covert Affairs (Eion Bailey) which happen to be two of my wife’s favorite shows.
The plot finds all these people getting together because they’re profilers in the FBI. Their teacher is a guy played by Kilmer who sets up ellaborate test scenarios to find out how well his team operates under pressure. This particular exercise finds them all dropped off on an island with a city built in the middle that other branches of the government use for training operations. It’s supposed to be fully immersive, but becomes more than just a game when their team starts getting picked off one by one by elaborate traps. As these things go, the profilers start to suspect one another and you’re not really sure who the bad guy is or what’s going on until the very end.
While some of the details were a bit hard to swallow — like the guy who won’t go anywhere without his gun and somehow smuggled it along with him on this supposedly gunless trip unbeknownst to the FBI agents in charge — and the dialog gets kinda corny at times, I thought this was a pretty well-put-together film that had some surprisingly cool kills. At times it felt like a less torture porn-y Saw or a more real world Final Destination with how complicated they got, but it made sense given the person behind it all and the people they were hunting.
I also got wrapped up in the whole “WHO’S DOING THIS!!!” to the point where, when my daughter came of her room with about 10 or 15 minutes to go and things were getting super tense, I freaked out a bit. More so, I was disappointed that I couldn’t finish watching in one sitting, but them’s the breaks.