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Mind Hunters
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRenny Harlin
Screenplay byWayne Kramer
Kevin Brodbin
Ehren Kruger (uncredited)
Story byWayne Kramer
Produced byCary Brokaw
Akiva Goldsman
Robert F. Newmyer
Jeffrey Silver
Rebecca Spikings
CinematographyRobert Gantz
Edited byNeil Farrell
Paul Martin Smith
Music byTuomas Kantelinen
Dimension Films
Intermedia Films
Outlaw Productions
Avenue Pictures
Weed Road Pictures
Distributed byMiramax Films[1] (North America)
Nordisk Film (Finland)[2]
Independent Films (Netherlands)[2]
Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International (International)
Release dates
  • March 19, 2004 (2004-03-19) (Brussels)
  • May 13, 2005 (2005-05-13)
Running time
106 minutes
CountriesUnited States
United Kingdom
Budget$27 million
Box office$21.1 million[2]

Mindhunters is a 2004 crime slasher film directed by Renny Harlin and starring Kathryn Morris, LL Cool J, Jonny Lee Miller, 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 Mindhunters are a group of FBI agents who are training as profilers. Their instructor, experienced profiler Jake Harris, employs a training approach that consists of assigning them variants of real investigations, including elaborate sets, props, and actors, to play out each scenario.

The student group is made up of Bobby, Vince, Nicole, Sara, Rafe, and Lucas. Alongside Harris is J.D., an experienced agent who leads the group and is secretly Nicole's lover. Nearing the end of their training, the group's morale is high. However, Vince discovers that neither he nor Sara will make the rank of "profiler" after secretly reading their training evaluations.

The group travels with Harris and J.D. to an island off the coast of North Carolina to complete their final training exercise. At the last minute, they are joined by Gabe, an outside observer who requested to see Harris's teaching methods in action. The Navy uses the island to train for hostage rescue and outbreak scenarios, and it features several target dummies, vehicles on mechanical rails, and small-town storefronts. Harris plans on using the town for their final exam, tracking "The Puppeteer", a serial killer. The team settles down and practices their profiling skills. There, it is revealed that Gabe is also a skilled profiler in his own right. Sara and Lucas briefly bond over losses in their families. Sara's sister was murdered and drowned years before, creating a fear of water in Sara, while Lucas' parents died when he was 10.

The following morning, the group finds a dead cat with a broken pocket watch in its mouth. Later, during the investigation of the "puppeteer" scenario, J.D. dies after triggering a mechanism that causes a tank of liquid nitrogen (mislabeled as helium) to freeze him instantly. Realizing J.D.'s death is neither accidental nor part of the training simulation, the group heads to the dock to leave the island, but the boat explodes before they can board. After returning to base, the group realizes that the broken watches and clocks found at each scene point to the fact that there is a real serial killer nearby, who has co-opted the exercise and is hunting them down. The killer's M.O. indicates that they plan to kill someone at a time designated by the broken clocks. After a thorough search of the island reveals nobody else present, the group concludes that the killer must be one of them.

Suspicions initially point to Gabe, as Lucas found maps and documents of the island in his luggage. While confronting him, they all pass out as their coffee has been drugged. They awaken to discover the killer murdered Rafe, draining his blood and leaving his severed head on a table, leading suspicions to return again to Gabe. Despite the suspicions, Gabe saves Vince from another trap involving broken water pipes and electrocution. Bobby is instead killed by a secondary trap when he goes to turn off the water. Sara deduces that the traps are based on their strengths, talents, and weaknesses. After more clues are discovered, suspicion shifts to Sara, who insists that she is being framed. Leaving to be alone, Nicole becomes the next to die after she smokes a cigarette laced with acid.

The island's speakers start broadcasting a taunting message from Harris, making the group realize that he is in the island. Convinced that Harris is the killer, Sara, Gabe and Lucas search for him, only to find him and two other agents dead in a hidden storefront. Harris has been strung up to wires from the ceiling as a marionette. The three turn on each other after triggering another trap, and Lucas is shot during the ensuing gun battle. Vince is trapped in a freezer after trying to reload his empty gun. In the elevator, he soon dies when his gun backfires on him.

Sara finds Vince's body, but Gabe ambushes her. The two fight, believing the other person is the killer. Gabe overpowers Sara but is then attacked by Lucas. Sara eventually recovers and hits Gabe with a fire extinguisher. Lucas reveals that he had been wearing a bulletproof vest, allowing him to survive getting shot. With Gabe subdued, Lucas expresses doubt that there is enough evidence to prove that he was the killer. Sara, however, reveals she found a way to get one step ahead of the killer. Knowing that the killer was relying on timed mechanisms and remotes, as well as enjoying watching their anxiety under pressure, she changed a clock to appear slow by fifteen minutes, and covered it in a powder that glows phosphorescently under blacklight. Reasoning that the killer would not be able to resist setting the clock to the correct time, she grabs a black light, finding the marking powder on Lucas' hands. Lucas confesses that his parents did not die in an accident, but that he killed them. Struggling to find more thrilling targets, he joined the FBI and planned to kill his fellow profilers, the only people he thought would be "worthy prey". Lucas tries to drown Sara, who manages to kick him into the water.

The two struggle and recover their weapons underwater, though she manages to shoot Lucas dead before he can kill her. Gabe recovers from his wounds, and when morning arrives, he and Sara flag down a U.S. Navy helicopter to leave the island.



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 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 (Amsterdam-Noord), The Hague, Delft, beach town Zandvoort, training village of the Police Academy in Ossendrecht and Radio Kootwijk on the Veluwe heath lands in the Gelderland province. 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]

Box office[edit]

The film was a box office letdown, making only $4,476,235 domestically[3] against a production budget of $27 million.


Mindhunters received generally negative reviews and it currently holds a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes; the consensus states: "A retread of Ten Little Indians that lacks the source material's wit."[4] On Metacritic, which uses an average of the critics' reviews, the film scored 33/100, indicating "generally unfavorable" reviews.[5]

Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun-Times, gave Mindhunters 2½ stars. His comments were: "I will leave you with only one clue. In 'House of Wax', which opened last week, the movie theater is playing 'What Ever 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'."[6]


  1. ^ "Mindhunters (2005) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Mindhunters (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  3. ^ "Mindhunters". the-numbers. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  4. ^ Mindhunters at Rotten Tomatoes
  5. ^ Mindhunters at Metacritic Edit this at Wikidata
  6. ^ Roger Ebert (May 12, 2005). "Reviews: Mindhunters". rogerebert.com. Retrieved September 20, 2011.

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