‘Mindhunters’ is a 2000s movie thriller pizza with extra cheese
(Welcome to Tit flows daily, an ongoing series in which the / Film crew shares what they’ve watched, why it’s worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)
The film: Spirit hunters
Where you can stream it: HBO Max
The pitch: The FBI sends a group of young agents to a remote island for training in their psychological profiling division. Called “Mindhunters” (yes, just like the Netflix series), the elite unit tracks down serial killers. The workout goes awry, however, when the group discovers a rogue serial killer among them. When you’re around people who know exactly how to cover their tracks, how can you trust someone?
Why it is essential to watch: Spirit hunters is the quintessential low-budget thriller of the mid-2000s. It features a bunch of ’90s stars locking themselves in but still having fun, and the director Renny harlin knows how to make a movie fun even if it’s not exactly Well. Shot in the Netherlands to get Dutch tax breaks, Spirit hunters sounds like the kind of wacky action thriller that we just don’t have anymore. There’s no winking self-awareness here, just a very silly movie that takes itself way too seriously, to our advantage.
I don’t really believe in the “it’s so bad it’s good” mentality, but I like Spirit hunters for how much he buys his own nonsense. Harlin is good at leading the action with a fabulous sense of rhythm, so the action sequences and editing are actually pretty awesome. The technical aspects are all pretty decent too. It’s by no means a lousy or visually boring movie, which is more than I can say for a lot of modern action blockbusters. The biggest problem Spirit hunters a is his incredible cheese. There are ridiculous lines delivered without a hint of irony, twists that seem utterly insane and a British actor Jonny lee miller hilariously tries a southern accent. It doesn’t work like Harlan et al. expected, but that does not prevent it from being a boat full of fun.
Spirit hunters is 106 minutes from Miller, Val Kilmer, Christian slater, Clifton Collins Jr., Patricia velasquez, and LL Cool J running around a military training center suspicious of each other. There are a lot of funny pretenses and The thing-“which of us is the killer” style moments, and everyone’s doing their best. Yes, even Miller, unintentionally hilarious accent and all. You have to remember that they were once some of the most requested actors, and here they were delivering lines reminiscent of the kinds of things you would see on Mystery Science Theater. Phrases like “I guess we found out his weakness: bullets” and “Remember, you’re 50 miles from shore, so if you run out of toilet paper you’re out of luck.” Absolute bangs.
Spirit hunters is loosely based on Agatha christieDetective story And then there was none, although vaguely is the keyword here. Christie’s novel about eight strangers trapped with a killer on a remote island is a tense thriller with many unexpected twists and turns, and Spirit hunters mostly is just a wacky and bloody amusement park ride. It’s a supreme microwave pizza with a cheese-filled crust: it’s not greedy and too much will clog your arteries, but it’s still pretty damn good.
A thing Spirit hunters is quite fair its makeup effects. There are many murder plays of varying theatricality (think television Annibal) and they’re all beautifully disgusting. Harlan was absolutely keen on making the special effects as practical as possible, so there isn’t much bad CGI here. There is just a lot of blood and guts, which makes the stakes slightly higher. Besides, you know, it’s fun.
Harlin originally tried to edit the film down to a PG-13 to gain a larger audience, but the MPAA was too confused by the murders. He then came back and reissued Spirit hunters be a harsh and violent R in response. Fans of other early Harlin works, such as the Sylvester Stallone ship Suspense or his masterpiece of killer shark The deep blue sea, will find a lot to love in Spirit hunters.
Spirit hunters captures a certain tone that doesn’t really exist outside of early 2000s cinema. There is a sinister seriousness combined with people doing their best to look cool, inspired by movies like The matrix and The thirteenth floor. Genre films of this period tended to be ambitious and relied on the star power of their actors to carry them, and Spirit hunters is a perfect example. It’s by no means a perfect movie, but it’s great from start to finish.