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Mindhunters poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Renny Harlin
Produced by Cary Brokaw
Akiva Goldsman
Robert F. Newmyer
Jeffrey Silver
Rebecca Spikings
Bob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Screenplay by Wayne Kramer
Kevin Brodbin
Ehren Kruger (uncredited)
Story by Wayne Kramer
Starring LL Cool J
Jonny Lee Miller
Kathryn Morris
Patricia Velásquez
Clifton Collins, Jr.
Eion Bailey
Will Kemp
Val Kilmer
Christian Slater
Music by Tuomas Kantelinen
Cinematography Robert Gantz
Edited by Neil Farrell
Paul Martin Smith
Distributed by Dimension Films (US)
Columbia Pictures (non-USA)
Release dates
  • March 19, 2004 (2004-03-19) (Brussels)
  • May 13, 2005 (2005-05-13)
Running time 106 min.
Country United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $27 million
Box office $21,148,829[1]

Mindhunters is a 2004 American-British thriller film directed by Renny Harlin and starring Jonny Lee Miller, Kathryn Morris, LL Cool J, Patricia Velásquez, Clifton Collins, Jr., Christian Slater and Val Kilmer. It was written by Wayne Kramer and Kevin Brodbin (with an uncredited rewrite by Ehren Kruger). Unusually, the last country to receive this film was the United States in 2005, because of the film's distribution rights being changed from 20th Century Fox to Dimension Films.


The titular Mindhunters are a group of young FBI students who are undergoing training as profilers. They travel with their instructor Jake Harris (Val Kilmer) to a small island off the coast of North Carolina to complete a profiling exercise. The island is used as a training facility by the FBI and the military where a mock town has been constructed. Harris has arranged an elaborate training scenario for his students to create a profile of a serial killer who has committed a murder in the town.

The students include Bobby (Eion Bailey), a young man with a talent for fixing things; Vince (Clifton Collins Jr.), a wheelchair-using ex-cop who goes nowhere without his gun; Nicole (Patricia Velasquez), a smoker who is attempting to quit; Sara (Kathryn Morris), a talented but insecure profiler who is also petrified of drowning; Gabe (LL Cool J, listed as James Todd Smith), an outside observer; Rafe (Will Kemp), a very intelligent, caffeine-powered British investigator; Lucas (Jonny Lee Miller), a supposedly fearless man whose parents were killed when he was a child; and J.D. (Christian Slater), their leader and Nicole's lover. Vince tells Sara that he has seen evaluation sheets in Harris' office and knows that he and Sara have been performing poorly and unlikely to pass as profilers.

They arrive on the island and commence their investigation the following day. The group first finds a dead cat with a watch- frozen at 10:00- shoved into its mouth. At 10:00 in the morning the group finds the first staged crime scene and encounters an elaborate, Rube Goldberg or Heath Robinson style trap. J.D.'s position as leader of the group prompts him to investigate it more closely, he is promptly killed by it. Convinced that J.D.'s death is not part of the training simulation, the group heads to the dock to leave the island. They fear that a killer is on the island with them. Their actions trigger another trap, this one destroying the boat they were going to use in order to escape. While recuperating from the last trap, Rafe makes some coffee which turns out to be drugged, knocking everyone out. When the group awakes, they discover that Rafe has been decapitated and exsanguinated while unconscious and that the killer has painted an elaborate group of numerical ciphers using Rafe's drained blood and the group also finds a pair of broken watches. As the time indicated on the broken watches approaches, the group discovers that the cipher refers to the speed of light.

At first, suspicions seem to point to Gabe, as Lucas found maps and documents of the island just before everyone was knocked out by the coffee. This continues when everyone awakes. He temporarily deflects these suspicions when he saves Vince from another trap involving broken water pipes and lights electrocuting the water. When Bobby attempts to shut off the water, yet another trap triggers; firing arrows into his neck and chest, killing him. Later, the results of a blood analysis collected from scraped skin samples found under Rafe's fingernails point to Sara, who denies being the killer; Lucas supports her. Vince reveals that Sara had a sister who was raped and drowned, which explains Sara's fear of drowning. Nicole ultimately decides she cannot trust any of her colleagues and leaves while holding the others at gunpoint, resulting in her death; the stress of the situation causes her to relapse into her smoking addiction and while walking outside, she finds spontaneously vended pack of cigarettes. She steps out to smoke one and quickly learns that it has been laced with a strong acid, which fatally burns her from the inside as Gabe and Lucas stare on in horror. Sara, meanwhile, finally deduces that the traps are based on their strengths, talents, and weaknesses and the remaining profilers elect to stick together, to keep an eye on each other.

Unexpectedly, the island's speakers begin to broadcast a taunting message from Harris, making them realize that he did not leave the island, though he led the profilers to believe that he had; convinced that Harris has been the killer all along, the remaining profilers search for him. Vince refuses to join the search party and stays behind at the lab. Sara, Gabe and Lucas find Harris and two other FBI agents next to him, all dead; Harris has been strung up to wires from the ceiling as a sort of marionette, just like the fake crime scene that they were to investigate. The three survivors realize that the killer is one of them, and in the shootout that ensues, Gabe seemingly takes out Lucas. At the same time, Vince manages to crawl to an elevator but hears someone coming toward him. He fires his gun (he always keeps it handy after having been shot earlier as a cop) at the stranger, but it has been tampered with by the killer and explosively misfires, sending shards into his face and arm and killing him.

Gabe and Sara then confront each other, each believing the other to be the serial killer. Lucas, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest, returns and jumps Gabe from behind. The two violently attack one another, eventually falling through a glass ceiling. Gabe starts to get up but is knocked unconscious by Sara, who then begins to tend to Lucas. Sara explains she figured out the killer's fascination with time and need to keep a schedule and she adjusted the clock in the lab and placed a powder marker on the clock. The clock has since been adjusted by the killer, and the powder will tell them who the killer is. Sara finds the marking powder on Lucas' hands instead of Gabe's. Lucas confesses that he killed his parents and has been seeking more thrilling targets to kill through the rest of his life, leading him to join the FBI and plan to kill his brilliant fellow profilers. Lucas tries to drown Sara, but she manages to kick him into the water. They realize that an underwater gun fight will not work, that they need to shoot above the water so they hold their guns above the surface and see who is able to hold their breath longer. Lucas fails and goes to take a breath, during which Sara wounds him badly, shooting him in the neck. Lucas begins to taunt her about the evidence he planted blaming her (the blood they found on Rafe's nails, the fingerprints on the Fire Extinguisher she used on Gabe and the bullet in Lucas' neck), until Gabe reappears: he is the last witness. In a last desperate effort, Lucas attempts to regain his weapon, forcing Sara to kill him,shooting him through the top of the head as he bends down to retrieve his weapon.

The film ends with Sara and Gabe flagging down a helicopter together. As they move to board, Sara wonders whether or not she has achieved profiler status.



Wayne Kramer sold the original spec screenplay of Mindhunters to 20th Century Fox. The title of his screenplay was originally called Unsub (Unknown Subject), but Fox executives preferred the title Mindhunters and changed it right before the deal was announced to the entertainment press. Kramer never felt comfortable with the title change because there was already a non-fiction book by John Douglas called Mindhunter.

'Building A' of Radio Kootwijk, one of the film locations

Renny Harlin was originally attached to direct the film adaptation of A Sound of Thunder based on Ray Bradbury's short story, but left to helm this movie instead. Gerard Butler was set to the play the role of Lucas Harper, but dropped out to star in Timeline. Ryan Phillippe was also considered for the part, before Jonny Lee Miller eventually signed on. Phillippe's then-wife, Reese Witherspoon, was offered to play Sara Moore, but she turned it down and Kathryn Morris was later cast. Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen and Gary Busey were all offered the part of Jake Harris, but they rejected the film before Val Kilmer agreed to do the movie.

Mindhunters was filmed entirely in the Netherlands. Locations included Amsterdam-Noord, The Hague, Amsterdam, Delft, Radio Kootwijk, Veluwe, Gelderland, and Zandvoort. Post-production of the film was moved to England to decrease the budget. Filming and production went from January to September 2002, yet the film was not released until 2004 (2005 in the USA). During the editing process, Harlin toned down much of the violence, in order to secure a PG-13 rating in the United States, yet the MPAA felt that the overall tone of the film was too dark and still issued it an R; following this Harlin reinserted the deleted scenes.[citation needed]


Mindhunters received generally negative reviews; it currently holds a 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the consensus states: "A retread of Ten Little Indians that lacks the source material's wit."[2] On Metacritic, which uses an average of the critics' reviews, gives the film 33/100, indicating "generally unfavorable" reviews.[3]

Roger Ebert, of The Chicago Sun-Times, gave Mindhunters 2½ stars; his last lines stated "I will leave you with only one clue. In "House of Wax," which opened last week, the movie theater is playing "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane." In this movie, the theater marquee advertises "The Third Man." No, the male characters are not numbered in order, so you can't figure it out that way, nor is the killer necessarily a woman. So think real hard. What else do you know about "The Third Man"? If you have never seen "The Third Man," I urge you to rent it immediately, as a preparation (or substitute) for "Mindhunters."[4]


  1. ^ "Mindhunters (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  2. ^ Mindhunters at Rotten Tomatoes
  3. ^ Mindhunters at Metacritic
  4. ^ Roger Ebert (2005-05-12). "Mindhunters :: rogerebert.com :: reviews". rogerebert.com. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 

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