“I Guess We Found Out His Weakness: Bullets.”

I cannot deny my love for bad movies. I just can’t. I like a lot of good movies too, and not every bad movie manages to be so-bad-it’s-awesome. In fact, many bad movies are just so-bad-they-SUCK. The problem, you see, is that almost everyone draws the line between these two categories in a slightly different place.

For instance, the Renny Harlin “thriller” Mindhunters?

Yeah, this is one of my very favorite guilty pleasures of all time.

Summary:

A group of FBI profiler trainees (and LL Cool J) are left alone on this island that doubles as a training ground for both the military and the bureau. Val Kilmer, their instructor, has created an elaborate exam for them to take: they must visit the mock scene of the crime and create a profile of their pretend serial killer. Unfortunately for them, there’s a real serial killer on the island too, and when people start dying, the profiler’s test becomes all too real. Bwahahahahaha!

. . . yeah, it’s awesome.

Notes:

1. I . . . it’s hard to know quite where to begin. Well, let’s see. Have you ever seen Criminal Minds? There are some similarities. Criminal Minds is a TV procedural, and it also focuses on a group of FBI profilers who study serial killers and catch unsubs (unknown subjects). And . . . that is about where the similarity ends. Because while CM is a fun, addicting drama with solid acting and not entirely ridiculous storylines, Mindhunters is . . . all ridiculous, all the time. Criminal Minds is to Mindhunters as The Dark Knight is to Batman and Robin. Know what I mean?

2. Of course, Mindhunters is much more enjoyable than Batman and Robin, if only for two reasons: one, Arnie isn’t in the former, and two, Mindhunters has a lot of ludicrously violent and gory deaths. Ludicrously violent and gory deaths almost always improve a movie.

3. There are a number of B, C, and D-listers in this film, so I’ll briefly cover a good chunk of them in this note.

Kathryn Morris

Morris plays Sara, our insecure heroine with a tragic backstory, and in a film that’s not exactly awash with stellar acting, Morris is easily the weakest link here. She has this one scene where she’s staring down a clock—don’t ask—and I got to tell you, honestly? I think the clock wins.

Sara is boring, whiny, and almost completely useless. Her very few moments of badassness? Yeah, I don’t buy any of them.

Jonny Lee Miller

Miller plays Lucas, another profiler and, more importantly, Sara’s love interest. Miller’s fine in the role—in fact, he gets the only worthwhile quote in the entire movie—but that accent . . .

Good Lord, that accent.

If you don’t know the actor, Jonny Lee Miller is English, and supposedly, the Scottish that he does in Trainspotting is, like, the best fake Scottish accent ever. His American is usually respectable enough—it has sort of an odd, Matthew Broderick-esque quality to it—but, like almost every other English actor I can think, his Southern is so hideous that it’s one of the most laughable things about the movie. And trust me, folks: there are a LOT of laughable things about this movie.

Christian Slater

Slater plays JD (yes, another {far more inferior} JD) who’s the team leader. JD’s also kind of a little shit—in a scene where a dead cat is hanging from the ceiling, he approaches it with his super clever quip, “Here, kitty, kitty”—but his lack of empathy for dead cats aside, the character’s just kind of there, and there’s not a lot to say about him.

LL COOL J


LL Cool J plays Gabe, the only non-profiler of the group. He’s there to observe . . . boy, did he pick the wrong weekend, right? All in all, LL Cool J’s pretty much there to say badass things, stand in a badass manner, and get out of his jacket in fight scenes so that we can adore his super muscly arms. He does fine enough at that . . . I’m always up for having LL Cool J around to say things like, “Eenie meenie miny mo. Who’s the next motherfucker to go?” But, as far as silly Renny Harlin movies go, his superior role is as Preacher in Deep Blue Sea.

Clifton Collins Jr.


Collins plays Vince, the only wheelchair bound profiler in the group. Honestly, Collins is a little shrieky in this role for me—although he doesn’t annoy me nearly as much as Kathryn Morris—but his character’s kind of fun. On one hand, you kind of feel bad for him. After all, being a paraplegic on the best of days probably isn’t a picnic, so being a paraplegic on a day where you’re trapped on an island with a psychotic serial killer . . . I mean, that’s just a bunch of bullshit, is what that is. On the other hand, Collins is a little psychotic himself, and he’s not really a nice guy. I like that the guy in the wheelchair is the survivalist of the group. Good for him.

and finally . . .Val Kilmer

. . . I have no idea what I'm doing here.

All I can really tell you about Kilmer is that he plays Harris, the eccentric FBI instructor. How eccentric? Well, he really likes overelaborate training exercises for his team. Also, notice the long hair. Totally eccentric.

4. Actually, let’s go back to those training exercises for a moment, shall we? The money that the FBI is apparently shelling out to pay for pretend houses of horror could easily buy me a trip to Maui. Probably even Rome. I mean, I get that there should be some props and whatnot for general ambience, but who exactly is paying for all that gothic silverware, those old paintings, the room completely full of dead animals? If this is where my taxes are really going, I’m moving to Canada, man.

5. Every rare now and then, a glimmer of a good idea pops up in this movie. The best example in Mindhunters is this: Sara and Lucas are sharing a tender moment (you know, amidst all the crazy death and murder and whatnot) and Lucas tells her this:

“All I know is this: you don’t confront your demons and defeat them. You confront your demons, then you confront them, then you confront them some more.”

In movies, it’s super common to have characters find the root of their issues and magically get over them, or go through some new horrible traumatic experience to get past some older horrible traumatic experience, and somehow end up healed from both traumas instead of just being, you know, more traumatized. It’s cool that, here, they play with the idea that people don’t just get over stuff with inspirational music and a little loving. People go through stuff, and then deal with it for the rest of their lives.

Of course, once said tender moment is over, they never bring up this idea again, so it kind of goes nowhere. But it was a nice half-thought.

6. It’s not so much a comment on the movie itself, but when I was looking up Mindhunters on Wikipedia, I was really amused by the character descriptions. For instance, they mention Bobby, “a young man with a talent for fixing things,” and Vince, “a wheelchair-using ex cop who goes nowhere without his gun.”

And then there was Nicole: “A smoker who is trying to quit.”

That’s it. That’s all Nicole gets. Not ‘a feisty, young agent who’s also trying to quit smoking.’ Nothing about her good qualities or talents or strengths. Just some chick who likes to smoke.

I guess I should just be impressed that there was more than one girl on the team.

7. Although, perhaps saying that Nicole—or any of the profilers, for that matter—are talented or hardcore in any way might be stretching the truth . . . like a lot. I get that these people are trainees and all, but none of these characters even remotely acts like they’re a government agent. I’m just saying, if these guys manage to survive this whole Island of Death thing, I don’t think they’re going to make it in the FBI.

8. Finally, here’s an idea for you: when something that looks like an elaborate trap starts up—for instance, when you’re standing in a room and about a bazillion dominoes start falling on themselves, all clearly leading to something—maybe you should try to either a, stop the trap before it springs, or b, leave the room before the trap goes off. Because, seriously, the pre-trap show goes on for at least a minute and a half. That is plenty of time to do something, not just stand there complacently and wonder, “Huh. I hope nothing bad is going to happen.”

There are a lot of ridiculous details to go over, but unfortunately, most of them involve spoilers.  So for those who want to watch this movie and mock and laugh, don’t continue onward. Just know that this is silly ineptitude at its best.

For everyone else, carry on:

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

So, poor Christian Slater is the first to go, and considering that he’s one of the more noticeable names in this group of B, C, and D-listers, that’s actually kind of cool. What would be even more cool is if Kathryn Morris got axed next, but unfortunately we’re pretty much stuck with her for the whole movie

So Slater gets hit with a whole bunch of pressurized liquid nitrogen, and he freezes, falls over, and breaks in half. It’s awesome. Over-the-top and ridiculous but awesome. Then we start killing off the other profilers, including Nicole and Vince. Vince is killed when his gun backfires on him (and there was a lot of talk amongst the friends if it was the gun or the ammo that was rigged because, really, neither make sense). Nicole, that infamous ex-smoker, runs off on her own because she doesn’t trust anyone, and when all the cigarette vending machines on the island suddenly dispense a free one, she can’t resist taking it because . . . she’s a moron. I mean, seriously? You know people are being murdered through their vices or their skills . . . and you’re just going to take that magically appearing cigarette? I don’t care how hard you’re craving. Moron.

Anyway, so it’s just Sara, Lucas, and LL Cool J left. They think that Val Kilmer is the bad guy and that he’s hiding somewhere on the island, but actually Kilmer was killed early on offscreen, and they find his corpse strung up like a dancing marionette. The remaining profilers turn on one another and start shooting. LL Cool J shoots Lucas in the chest, and then there were two.

Sara and LL Cool J fight each other for awhile, and LL Cool J is supposed to be all menacing and evil and whatnot, but it’s pretty clear that they both think the other one is the bad guy. Then in a shocking, shocking turn of events, Lucas comes back from the dead—you know, I should really think about investing in a bulletproof vest, because apparently, they come super in handy—and tackles LL Cool J.

After some more fighting, LL Cool J is hit in the head with a fire extinguisher and is either dead or unconscious (spoiler: he’s just unconscious). Then Sara reveals her clever little plan to Lucas: back when she was staring down a clock earlier? She was actually setting her own trap for the killer. See, the killer is all obsessed with time, so Sara fucked around with the clock, knowing that he’d have to reset it. The killer would accidentally get his hands all glowy with this neat, invisible substance that she covered the clock with.

Sara checks LL Cool J’s hands, but surprise! It’s not him. That can only mean . . . it was Lucas all along! Bad Jonny Lee Miller! Bad! (Although, he does get a funny when she realizes it’s him. He just kind of looks at her with sort of a whoops expression and is all, “This is awkward.” Hee.)

So, Sara’s afraid of drowning because of her tragic past, but apparently that’s not her only weakness. Her other weakness? As Lucas himself says: “Me!” (Someone thinks highly of themselves.) The two have an underwater gun battle, where Sara takes a moment to mouth the words, “Fuck you,” to Lucas. She mouths them. In slow-mo. Underwater. Awesome.

Anyway, Sara wins the battle by being able to stay underwater the longest (even though she’s phobic and hasn’t swam in twenty-odd years; apparently, she’s quite the natural) and then she shoots him in the neck. Even though, in the very next shot, Lucas isn’t shot in the neck. Even though, when he isn’t shot in the neck, Lucas says, “I have your bullet in my neck.” This movie has a LOT of editing issues.

Anyway, long story short, LL Cool J comes back to life; Lucas gets shot again, and this time it sticks. Sara and LL Cool J get to leave the island, and all is happily ever after.

A few more notes, this time with spoilers:

1. Kathryn Morris gets to pretend she’s dead a lot in this film. I think she makes Dead Face at least three times. I don’t think that beats out Elijah Wood in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it’s close, so she’s getting the honorary Frodo Award for Most Fake-Out Deaths.

2. You know how all the characters have a weakness? Well, before you know he’s the bad guy, Lucas’s only weakness is that he’s “fearless”. (This is his own self-assessment. Like I said, Lucas kind of has an ego for being the “nice guy”.) And it’s not that being fearless can’t be a weakness . . . but it’s just sort of a line dropped in there and, frankly, there’s not a lot of evidence to back up the claim.

3. Why is Lucas doing this, you might ask? Well, ever since he murdered his parents when he was a kid, he’s been bored and he’s wanted better prey. So he joins the FBI. So he can . . . kill other FBI? In super overelaborate ways? And his plan after this is to . . . what? Kill other FBI agents and hope they don’t catch on? Or will he leave the FBI and do the same thing to, say, the CIA?

Conclusion: This is a silly, ludicrous movie, but I had so much fun watching it and, well, picking it apart, that I couldn’t help but love it. Take it seriously, and you’re going to hate it. If you like unintentional comedies, though, this might be the movie for you.

Grade: Um. C. It should probably be a D+, but since I enjoy it as much as I do, it goes up a letter grade.

Moral: Know your strengths and weaknesses. They can be used against you, and by used against you, I mean they can be used to cut your head off and drain you of all your blood. Whoops.

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11 Responses to “I Guess We Found Out His Weakness: Bullets.”

  1. Fatpie42 says:

    if only for two reasons: one, Arnie isn’t in the former

    I’m going to have to argue against you on this one. Arnie wasn’t the problem with “Batman and Robin”. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman were the only two people in that movie who properly played um the campiness of their characters. While admittedly Uma did a better job of it than Arnie did, those were the only two figures who seemed to actually understand what kind of movie they were in.

    Arnie and Uma were campy and silly because the movie required them to be campy and silly. And naturally they couldn’t choose their lines. What’s George Clooney’s excuse for being a boring block of wood in that movie?

    Besides Arnie apologised for it (okay not really):

    • I had many many, many problems with Batman and Robin. George Clooney was definitely one of them, but I don’t know if he was even in my top three of Worst Things About This Film. And while I’m okay with camp—Uma Thurman was kind of fun, actually, and I like both Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey in Batman Forever, Arnie wasn’t just campy; he was awful. I think I groaned every time he opened his mouth, and you know, not in the good way.

  2. ky02121 says:

    I think I saw this years ago. Maybe I should watch it again because it sounds hilarious.

  3. Jaime says:

    Usually I read the spoilers section, but I think I’ll watch this one. I mean, Christian Slater, Val Kilmer, LL Cool J. That’s gotta be some sort of wacky triumvirate of silly awesomeness.

    I can only imagine how any character who survives this movie will be conditioned to be terrified by anything that could signal the beginning of an elaborate trap. Their kids would be all like, “Watch how freaked out my mom gets when we knock over all these dominoes.”

  4. Pingback: Top 12 Favorite Guilty Pleasure Movies | My Geek Blasphemy

  5. Kat says:

    A little while after this movie came out, it was on some movie channel all the freaking time. And my roommate and I watched it all the freaking time, laughing our asses off during each viewing. Now I want to watch it again. :D

  6. Fran says:

    I really couldn’t stand this movie to be honest. Mainly because it just felt like another adaptation of “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie. The whole time it just reminded me of the much better movie (in my opinion), Identity. I was surprised by the ending but all the red herrings got frustrating after a while.

  7. Jude says:

    Well I agree, hilarity is limitless with this movie. I was in the mood for a good thriller, not a slasher-comedy. Just for the record, you first drain the guy off all his blood, write supposedly random numbers on any glass surface in the room (how fast does blood actually dry?), and then you neatly chop the poor chap’s head off. I was actually willing to settle for the comedy aspect, but then they killed Rafe, who was supposed to be the comic relief, and by doing so managed to give up the killer’s identity. So suspense gone, fun gone, all that was left was blood and gore. Disgusting really.

  8. Geoffrey says:

    great so bad its good movie. liked your review as well. I’ve watched it at least 10 times. my only grip with what you said would be your criticism of the first death scene with Slater and the boobie trap. At that point in time they simply thought it was another one of Val Kilmer’s elaborate Games, Clues etc. That’s the whole point of the first sequence at the house. it’s all a set up for the first killing to be a surprise to make you think nothing harmful will happen just more games, clues etc. I Also like that Once they Kill Slater you realize there all fair game. I will say the Scene did go on for far too long. the over all acting was complete phoned in. LL defiantly has the better role in Renny Harlin’s Deep Blue Sea “You ate my bird!”.

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