Shot in The Netherlands and completed in 2002 but not released until 2005, this variation on Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians by way of EYE SEE YOU (which also languished for two years before debuting on video/DVD) traps eight victims-to-be on an island with a diabolical killer. Eccentric FBI instructor Jake Harris (Val Kilmer), who has a reputation for pushing his students to their limits, is about to put seven aspiring profilers natural leader J.D. Reston (Christian Slater), hot-blooded Nicole (Patricia Velasquez), engineering whiz Bobby (Eion Bailey), wheelchair-bound Vince (Clifton Collins Jr.), goofy Rafe (Will Kemp, hair dyed a startling blond), reliable Lucas (Jonny Lee Miller) and weak sister Sara (Kathryn Morris, star of TV's Cold Case) to the test. The trainees are accompanied by gate crasher Gabe Jensen (LL Cool J), who's been assigned to observe Harris' controversial methods. They're all transported by helicopter to Oniega Island, a Naval complex off the Virginia coast that comes complete with state-of-the-art forensics equipment and a life-size small town populated by eerie, bullet-pocked mannequins. The profilers have no weapons and no way of communicating with the outside: The computers only access databases and there are no working phones. They're instructed to find Harris' staged crime scene and work as a team to profile a killer dubbed "the puppeteer." Shortly after finding the fake victim, Reston becomes a real one, dying horribly in a booby trap that envelops him in a cloud of frozen nitrogen. The survivors realize the training simulation is a real fight for their lives and their attempt to escape by boat is sabotaged, forcing them to hunker down and try to outwit a killer who delights in puzzles and self-imposed deadlines. But after searching the island thoroughly, they're forced to conclude that the murderer is one of them. Screenwriter Wayne Kramer went on to write and direct the esteemed THE COOLER (2003), but his mastery of body-count conventions doesn't extend beyond a gee-whiz enthusiasm for death by Rube Goldberg device. The sheer dogged inventiveness of maneuvering various victims into their gory demises by arrows, acid-laced cigarettes, electrocution and other nasty methods might be endearing if it weren't so labored; the only authentic surprise is Slater's Janet Leigh-like demise at the 30-minute mark. Harlin's brisk pacing leaves little time for reflection, but the whole house of blood-spattered cards dissolves upon even cursory reflection.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: R
- Review: Shot in The Netherlands and completed in 2002 but not released until 2005, this variation on Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians by way of EYE SEE YOU (which also languished for two years before debuting on video/DVD) traps eight victims-to-be on an islan… (more)