A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie includes strong language (especially "f--k") and sexual references and situations (including a sex scene that begins in a shower). Characters smoke and drink. The film includes gross-out scenes (maggots, roaches, blood) and gory, emphatic violence (assaults involve knives, guns, drowning, electrocution, acid-poisoning, liquid-nitrogen freezing, a head chopped off). A dead cat is left hanging in a bathroom. Almost all characters are killed.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Student profiler Vince (Clifton Collins Jr.) and his fellow trainees are sent to an isolated island where they are surrounded by mannequins (used for the Navy's shooting practice). Shortly after arriving, they learn that the test is for real: someone is profiling them, killing them off one by one, and leaving them in grotesque poses. According to trainer Harris (Val Kilmer), they must learn by doing, and so he sets out to scare and test them. Each has a particular fear to be exploited -- Vince fears being unarmed (in a wheelchair, his movement is limited), J.D. (Christian Slater) worries he's not a good leader; Sarah (Kathryn Morris) feels guilty over her sister's death; Nicole (Patricia Velasquez) has just quit smoking; Rafe (Will Kemp) worries he's not as smart as he thinks; and creepy Lucas (Jonny Lee Miller) resents Sarah's lack of interest in him. Also there is former Navy SEAL and Philadelphia detective Gabe (LL Cool J), who is enough of an outsider to concern the others, which leads to frequent confrontations.
Is it any good?
As such generic exercises go, this film is seriously average. If profiling was once a mysterious, even respected career choice (at least in the movies, as in Silence of the Lambs), it has long since fallen prey to pop cultural overkill. Its release postponed for a couple of years, Renny Harlin's MINDHUNTERS is at once dated and so preposterous that it hardly matters. (Its unoriginal set-up recalls Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians, but with less British banter and more U.S.-style explosive action.)
As the survivors scramble to solve puzzles before each murder, the film frames repeated dilemmas concerning trust, deceit, and readability: even though the profilers are supposed to be able to read each other, their actual lack of vision stems from their own insecurities. The bodies pile up as any logic seeps away.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's various and familiar competitions -- between teachers and students; men and women; white, black, and Latina characters; abled and disabled characters (Vince is in a wheelchair). The movie also raises questions about trust and loyalty, to a team, to friends, and to a law-and-order ideal.
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.