Back in 2003 during the previews of Bad Santa I encountered the trailer for Mindhunters (2004). I immediately became intrigued by the idea within the film. I found myself checking constantly to see the film’s release date. Eventually, before going on a beach vacation, the film was finally in theaters! Afraid of missing the feature, this was one I knew that I had to go see immediately before vacationing. After all, I had been waiting a little over a year to actually view the film. When one waits this long waiting longer is not exactly a person’s strong suit.
Despite growing far too anxious and reading who the killer was online, I was still glad that I went ahead and viewed the film before vacationing that weekend. This was not just because of some of my favorite actors in the film (Jonny Lee Miller, Christian Slater, and Val Kilmer), but because the film was not all that bad. Yes, instances where one knows the effects added in later and some of the screams seem like ones that they have cued up just to add some non-diegetic sound.
The film was critically panned Mindhunters is not one of the worst films I have ever seen, which is why I did not understand all the negativity. It slowly became one of my favorite films to watch repeatedly. The film quickly became a guilty pleasure among myself and two of my friends. The best part? My friends loved Mindhunters too! There’s something about this sleeper film that people seem to love once they watch the feature and hopefully if one chooses to check it out they will love what has turned into one of my ultimate guilty pleasure too.
The film begins by introducing us to the various FBI agents in training, J.D. Reston (Christian Slater), Sarah Moore (Kathryn Morris), Lucas Harper (Jonny Lee Miller), Bobby Whitman (Eion Bailey), Vince Sherman (Clifton Collins Jr.), Rafe Perry (Will Kemp), and their teacher, Jake Harris (Val Kilmer). The opening is one of the most unique openings of a horror/thriller for introducing a film’s characters, but quite pleasurable. Harris later reveals to them in class that they will be going to a remote island off the coast of Virginia where the FBI has been using the facilities for their psychological profiling division.
As the group all board a helicopter Gabe Jensen (LL Cool J) comes along for the ride to observe the training techniques because the FBI is secretly investing Harris for unorthodox training methods. After Harris departs from the island, leaving the six profilers and their observer, the group begins their training methods. Soon rather than later the group of trainees realize that their training has gone horribly wrong when the first student ends up murdered during the training process.
In a game of cat and mouse, they group discovers that a serial killer among the midst of the training program. The problem soon becomes who does one trust? Who does one not trust? Who is the killer among them? As the killer puts a time clock on the various murders taking place, will the profilers discover who the killer is in time to get off the island alive? Many questions that pop up within this film that’s full of twists and turns around every corner until the very end.
The acting within the film, this is one of the better acted guilty pleasures I own. Everyone gives a great performance. The best part is the fact the film introduced me to many new faces. While the acting of Christian Slater and Val Kilmer was amazing as always in many of their films, one of the stands out to me within the film was the acting of Eion Bailey.
Bailey is a truly talented individual in most of the films that I have seen with him after this initial film. Mindhunters made me want to explore his filmography more so than any other actor within the feature. He has a bit of smart-ass charm about him within the feature and that is probably part of why I enjoy the character as much as I do.
Collins also displays so much strength both mentally and physically as Vince while both in and out of his wheel-chair. He manages to play the role of a paraplegic with such ease one would have second thoughts about whether he really is or not within the feature.
Miller also shines as the sweetheart with a bit of country twang in his voice. Other critics have ripped his accent apart, but knowing people who speak almost exactly the same accent I cannot not. He also tries to maintain a unity among the group when paranoia begins running rampant.
While the guys are quite entertaining, the females provide solid performances as well. My favorite female performance hails from Morris. Velasquez brings a strong front for all women kind, but by the end Morris proves that she is far more than what her team has profiled her as from the beginning. This is far better than others considering one the strong female of the group. To have a bit more of a range is always better.
Overall, Mindhunters is an extremely underrated guilty pleasure. This is also a feature that most people have not seen, at least not outside of those I have recommended it to. I do not think this is because they have not heard of the film, but because of all the horrible reviews about the film. Despite me considering the film a guilty pleasure Mindhunters is a fun thriller. I would even go as far as great.
Despite others feeling the film is predictable, I do not. The ending is a bit of twist. Even when reading who the killer among the FBI trainees I began to doubt while sitting in the theater. After all, I had heard multiple endings were filmed so they obviously had chosen to go with another one. Does the film have editing issues? Yes, but hardly any film is perfect. Although some of the deaths people deem impossible, I still enjoys the various scenes produced within the feature.
In truth, the film manages to take one on a ride from the very beginning to the very end and not many films in the so-called guilty pleasure category that manages to do so. Take a chance today, no matter what one has read in reviews, and view Mindhunters! Not only will you have a new film to long, but one will have some new quotes to put under their belt. You might even find someone to feed the ducks together. See you would get that inside joke I just made if you had seen the film. Go. Go watch it now and get back to me.