Mindhunter is the brilliant new thriller series on Netflix. With David Fincher at the helm, we knew it would be good. It’s not though… it’s great!
Mindhunter has been a highly anticipated show. Both because of the concept revolving around the FBI and serial killers. But, perhaps even more so, because it has David Fincher onboard and was made for Netflix.
Still, with great anticipation comes the risk of disappointment. Fortunately, you should have no fear of getting disappointed. Mindhunter Season 1 is absolutely brilliant!
Oh yeah, and season 2 is well on the way. In fact, a second season was greenlit before Mindhunter Season 1 had even been released on Netflix.
Anyone fascinated with serial killers should be able to see the allure of the plot. We follow a relatively young agent, Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), who isn’t interested in moving upwards in the FBI ranks.
Instead, he wants to delve into the psyche of the most deviant killers already caught.
His goal is to understand what makes them tick. The purpose? To find patterns that can help the FBI catch killers in the future – maybe even before they actually murder someone.
In short, this is the beginning of “profiling” within the FBI. Also, it’s where many of the terms being used now are created. Including, very appropriately, the term “serial killer”.
Mindhunter is a character-driven force of nature
Sure, it may go without saying that a show about the FBI learning how to profile serial killers is character-driven. I mean, we’ve long been fascinated by serial killers because we try to understand them.
David Fincher himself has made a career of covering the subject. Both with fiction serial killers in Se7en (1995) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), plus, of course, covering the Zodiac killer in Zodiac (2007).
Fincher has directed 4 out of the 10 episodes in Season 1 while producing the show.
Another producer on Mindhunter is Charlize Theron. Of course, she has her own experience with serial killers, having won an Oscar for portraying Aileen Wuornos in Monster (2003). Aileen Wuornos was one of the few female serial killers.
Relatively speaking, most serial killers are male. And white. Something they touch upon in Mindhunter Season 1, since it becomes relevant when deciding who should interview the “deviants”.
Jonathan Groff shines!
I’ve always liked Jonathan Groff, which means I was thrilled when it came out that he had landed this part. He is the leading character in Mindhunter and he is perfect as Agent Holden Ford. A character that starts out being quite humble and naive, but determined to do whatever he sets his mind to.
However, the deeper he gets into the mind of truly disturbed people, the more his own mind is affected. His demeanor and language changes and with each success, he becomes cockier and danger to himself.
Fortunately, it’s all in the detail and not some overt change.
Equally brilliant team members
On the team with Agent Holden Ford, we find Agent Bill Tench. He’s older, but more importantly, he’s more experienced. He does his best to keep Agent Ford in check and always keeps himself cool and calm.
Holt McCallany portrays Agent Tench in a performance that could easily become nominated for many supporting character awards. Then again, Holt McCallany tends to be amazing in everything he does. Such as the characters “The Mechanic” from Fight Club and “Junior” in Alien³ – both David Fincher movies.
The last person to join the original team of Mindhunter profilers is Dr. Wendy Carr. She isn’t with the FBI. She’s been studying behavior and comes onboard to qualify the project and make sure they can actually use it as a profiling tool.
Oh, and don’t worry, they don’t call it “Mindhunter Profilers”. No, it’s simply called the “Behavioral Science Unit” at the FBI, which is why the addition of Dr. Wendy Carr is relevant.
Wendy Carr is portrayed by Anna Torv (the TV series Fringe) and she absolutely nails the character. A strong performance and fascinating character that I hope we’ll see a lot more from in season 2.
Mindhunter Season 1 is a ride into madness
Mindhunter was created by Joe Penhall. He’s also credited for writing the show along with the writers of the book it’s based on, John Douglas and Mark Olshaker. Of course, each episode also has additional writers attached, so it’s very much a joint effort.
Joe Penhall himself also wrote the screenplay for the very bleak The Road (2009) starring Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Charlize Theron. That screenplay was also based on a book.
Even though the subject of Mindhunter is very dark and sinister, it all looks stunning. Cinematographers Erik Messerschmidt and Christopher Probst deliver the ride into madness and quite a gorgeous trip.
While all episodes are truly great, there’s something fascinating about episodes 5 and 6 of Season 1. They also feature Joseph Cross in a very memorable performance. And yes, the two episodes were directed (and one written) by our fellow Dane, Tobias Lindholm.
And honestly, we’re not the only ones who felt these episodes were extraordinary; The season finale episode has the highest rating on IMDb, but episode 5 ties for the second place with episode 9.
Give us a Kemper movie starring Cameron Britton
Finally, it wouldn’t be fair to end any review of Mindhunter Season 1 without mentioning Cameron Britton. He portrays the first serial killer (Edmund Kemper) interviewed by Agent Ford. Ed Kemper is described as “eerily articulate”, which is something Cameron Britton portrays perfectly.
In fact, if only one actor gets a nomination for their work on Mindhunter is should be Cameron Britton. And that says a lot since the show is filled to the brim with mind-blowing portrayals. Especially many of the actors portraying criminals get so much great stuff to work with and they all do it justice.
Still, Britton manages to make Ed Kemper into an actual human that you want to talk to. In fact, you begin looking forward to when the agents go for another visit.
Mind you, Kemper is a guy who can happily talk about cop shows he watched on TV and then (just as calmly) talk about how he killed his victims and then raped their corpses. Plus, the guy is a Hulk-sized human, who could break you in half.
Basically, now I’m wanting to watch an entire movie about Ed Kemper, but only if Cameron Britton is the one portraying him.
While we allow David Fincher and Charlize Theron to ponder that thought, make sure you check out Mindhunter on Netflix.
Mindhunter was released on Netflix worldwide on October 13, 2017.
Creator: Joe Penhall
Directors: David Fincher, Andrew Douglas, Asif Kapadia, Tobias Lindholm
Cast: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv, Hannah Gross, Cameron Britton, Joseph Cross
An agent in the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit tracks down serial killers and rapists.