The F*ckin Black Sheep: Mindhunters (2004)

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

Mindhunters (2004)
Directed by Renny Harlin

I've always found the struggle for directors and actors to remain relevant fascinating...especially when it's clear their time has passed. Of course, no one can blame them. People gotta work. An actor will take shitty roles cause it pays the bills. It has to be better than getting a real estate license and having every client say, "Hey, you sure look familiar."

So here we have the once pretty great Renny Harlin, who directed solid action flicks (and solid B action flicks) like Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Deep Blue Sea, and one of my all time favorites The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. Somehow though, the man lost his way and hasn't found his way back (he did do that other Hercules movie last year). Mindhunters could be to blame. Maybe it was a cursed production because at the same time, Val Kilmer, LL Cool J, and even Christian Slater were still leading feature roles. Somehow though, after this film, those features quickly dried up (notice how Cool J and Slater both went to TV years later).

Fair or unfair, Mindhunters sat on the shelves for two years before being dumped into theaters with little regard and quickly forgotten. However, I think it has earned a bad rap so I'll make it the purpose of this column to see if we can change that. Best forgotten movie ever? Umm, no. But what I dig about Mindhunters is that it’s a dark, bloody mystery, one of those that keeps spiraling with twists and turns (sometimes to the level of ridiculousness, but stop thinking so hard).

We all know the basic plot (well, maybe not). A group of FBI profiler trainees venture off to a vacant, secluded training ground where their mental and physical limitations are put to the test. What starts off as fun and games soon turns deadly. The problem is that we don't know who is behind it all. Is it one of the group? Or someone else? Like I said, we've all seen this movie before, but I appreciate the fact that Harlin cast no real stars. Take Schwarzenegger's Sabotage where we have Arnold and then a lot of lesser known actors. Once Arnold doesn't die within the first 15 minutes, it was a safe bet he'll last. But here death is fair game to all. And people die in very bad and violent ways.

I won't spoil everything, but poor Slater (he's pretty decent in the role) acts as Steven Seagal ala Executive Decision when he gets the T-1000 freeze-dry treatment. That shit looks painful. Kilmer is still thin here but we don't get nearly enough from him as the group's instructor. He's really hamming it up, but I guess the production could only afford him for two days. Cool J is good, but no matter how ripped the dude is he needs to sport a beard or a biker stash for a more grizzled look. He always looks soft (not saying you are, Mr. Cool J). And for some reason, Jonny Lee Miller is in here as an American yet they cast someone else as a Brit. Whatever.

Now, the cynic might say this is standard issue material, a nothing special B thriller. Maybe it is. But there's something very 1990s-action-movie about Mindhunters and that's what I like. It's never slow, never too smart, it is plenty bloody, and we get to see Christian Slater die a horrific death. What's not to enjoy about that?




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