A team of would-be FBI agents are undergoing intensive training in a mock town on an isolated island. But things take a decidedly deadly twist as someone starts killing them off one-by-one, someone who seems to know their individual weaknesses. Cut off from the outside world it's a race against time to interpret the clues and unmask the killer.
Placing a contrasting group of individuals in a confined location and at the mercy of an unknown assailant is a common premise for thrillers and horror movies, Agatha Christie did it in And Then There Were None which has had various big screen outings and now comes Renny Harlin's riff on a similar premise in Mindhunters. Opening with a pair of agents on the trail of a serial killer Harlin pulls the rug from under the audience, a technique which he repeatedly employs throughout as red herrings, twists and revelations are dished up in an attempt to keep the audience guessing.
All the characters have a specific exploitable trait, as characters in such a movie always do and the killer has overly elaborate ways of dispatching their victims, as killers in such a movie always do. These methods of murder are quite entertaining and, with watches left lying around to indicate when the next victim will be slain, there is a fair amount of tension with the clock literally ticking down to the next death.
As in Deep Blue Sea Harlin plays with audience expectations, the mix of known and unknown cast members meeting their grisly demise in an unexpected order making for some less predictable moments. But overall things aren't as successful here with a few gaping plot holes and an initially taut tone of suspense and paranoia replaced with action movie fistfights and shootouts. The inappropriate score also detracts from the tense atmosphere with its overly bombastic cues.
A few novel death scenes aside Mindhunters is a film that fails to live up to what could have been an interesting spin on a familiar formula. After an enticing setup there appears to be an impatience on the part of the scriptwriters and director Harlin to move away from the more psychological whodunit elements to formulaic action thrills. Mildly entertaining at best.