Los Angeles Times

Movie review: 'Mindhunters'

½ star (out of 4)

Mark my words: "Mindhunters" will do for psycho-thrillers what "Showgirls" did for stripper movies.

Near the beginning of Renny Harlin's unintentionally hilarious film, a table of young, attractive FBI trainees, out for a post-drill drink, profile the barflies around them. Tossing back beers and dragging on cigarettes, the agentettes squint and talk really fast and get a good, agenty laugh when a guy they peg a womanizer turns out to be gay.

This is the setup, when every word spoken is meant to foreshadow a future calamity and each character reveals his Big Trait: Lucas (Jonny Lee Miller) is the sweetheart, Sara (Kathryn Morris) the nervous-jervous, J.D. (Christian Slater, keeping his name from "Heathers") the leader and so on.

Now that we know everyone, the D-list Mametisms soon give way to blood and guts when instructor Jake Harris (elder statesman Val Kilmer) sends his charges to an abandoned island for a weekend training exercise. Their fake mission: Find the Puppeteer, a fictional serial killer who strings up his victims like marionettes.

Things go from fake to funny (I mean, scary) when one by one the agents start dying off "Ten Little Indians"-style, and the simulation becomes all too real. The remaining must call upon all their superprofiling powers to find the killer among them.

Civilians like you and I probably wouldn't be able to pick up on the clever clues, but thankfully the "Mindhunters" bunch is trained for this sort of thing, and soon they zero in on the killer's signature—he/she always leaves behind a clock, set to the time of the next killing.

The murders get more elaborate—more ridiculous—with each passing hour. J.D. is the first to go (sorry, "Pump up the Volume" fans), his limbs cracking off after some sort of poison gas infection. Later, the executioner drains an agent's blood and uses it to write nonsensical numbers up and down a wall.

Nonsensical numbers! It's a clue!

But seriously, to all you theatrical entrepreneurs: "Showgirls"-loving smarties are way ahead of you, having already converted their favorite camp classic into 2002's local sock-puppet stage show, "Harvey Finklestein's Sock Puppet Showgirls." But I really believe you can catch up, even surpass, their efforts. Picture it: The Puppeteer sock puppet. It's totally meta.

This is going to be huge.

abenedikt@tribune.com

"Mindhunters"

Directed by Renny Harlin; written by Wayne Kramer, Kevin Brodbin; photographed by Robert Gantz; edited by Paul Martin Smith, Neil Farrell; music by Tuomas Kantelinen; produced by Cary Brokaw, Jeffrey Silver, Bobby Newmyer, Rebecca Spikings. A Dimension Films release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:45. MPAA rating: R (violence/strong graphic images, language and sexual content).

Gabe Jensen - LL Cool J
Lucas Harper - Jonny Lee Miller
Sara Moore - Kathryn Morris
J.D. Reston - Christian Slater
Jake Harris - Val Kilmer

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Make a night of it

    Find: • Recommended dining • Recommended bars

Comments
Loading
78°