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Mon May 9, 2005
A modicum of intelligence and suspense
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time
Second-tier director Renny Harlin should have hunted for minds other than these two pedigreed writers to elevate Mindhunters from the banal to the mediocre. Or better yet, when he cast Val Kilmer for no more than a ten-minute part and Christian Slater for a bit more, all crew should have fled knowing the curse that lies under billing stars with brief parts.
At any rate, this thriller about F.B.I. profiler trainees stuck on an island with a serial killer is as predictable as any Die Hard movie (Harlin directed Die Hard II), as bloody as any Friday the 13th, and as dumb as any Miss Congeniality. The latest of the latter I left after an hour, so Mindhunters must have a modicum of intelligence and suspense because I stayed the course with a moment or two of thrills and much less of surprise.
The whodunit aspect of Mindhunters is the weakest because the time it takes to explain who the killer is and why reveals how vacant the plot has been to need the explanation. (The trainees are knocked off one at a time with military precision in a weak nod to Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians but a closer similarity to the sodden James Mangold Identity.)
If you are not convinced this is a lame thriller, consider the ending, which has the killer bagged not least of all because of that most notorious clich?--bad guy explaining motive too long while good guys get the bead.
Give me Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter: Now there are new agent and serial killer worth scrutiny. Their imitators will roam eternity hunting minds they never had in plots we always knew. The 106 minutes with this mindless horror-thriller is a cost T.S. Eliot did not envision when he described "free passage to the phantoms of the mind."
A moment or two of thrills and much less of surprise, a cliched plot for a cliched thriller.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com.