Cinema Review: The Mind's Eye | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, April 4th, 2020  

The Mind’s Eye

Studio: RLJ Entertainment
Directed by Joe Begos

Aug 04, 2016 Web Exclusive
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Much of The Mind’s Eye will feel familiar to anyone with a passing knowledge of David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, or the 1980s in general. It’s a world of violent psychokinetic powers, sinister doctors, slow motion, and synthesizers. The story is barely substantial enough to count as threadbare, and nearly everyone acts inexplicably throughout, but writer/director Joe Begos’ utter commitment to gory chaos saves his sophomore effort from drowning in its own bloody remains.

The markers are laid down early. Opening text, white against a black backdrop, sets out an America in which psychokinetic powers have started to emerge. As the authorities muscle in to try and militarize these poor individuals, the results are unsurprisingly deadly. The word deadlier even appears to close the text, written in red and underlined. It doesn’t get any subtler from here.

Early on, Zack (Graham Skipper), purportedly the most powerful psychokinetic around, is captured by Doctor Slovak (John Speredakos), a creepy figure who’s developed a serum to suppress their abilities, and one to boost his own. Having already caught Zack’s girlfriend Rachel (Lauren Ashley Carter), he lures him back to the Slovak Institute to lock him up and carry out tests. The scene is set for a heroic breakout and murderous battle against the increasingly deranged Doctor and his ragtag security team consisting of a collection of morons and a man with an eyepatch who resembles a better groomed Snake Plissken.

Most of the action takes place at night allowing plenty of opportunity to rock out blue, red, and amber lighting depending on the locale. It also makes little sense. Nearly every character shows a wonderful capacity to let their target slip away, always choosing the wrong weapon, conventional or psychokinetic, and never bothering to check if rivals are actually dead before leaving the scene. This only seems to occur so Begos can keeps the fights going, and boy does he enjoy a good scrap. Heads explode, limbs are torn off, needles and axes fly through the air, people are shot, stabbed, and have their teeth battered out. This is no expense spared violence.

The problem, after a relatively tense set-up, is the descent of the second half into a barely plotted brawl. Breaks only occur long enough to move characters to their next fight. It doesn’t help that a lot of these fights devolve into slow-motion stare-offs, calling on the actors to provide little more than good crazy eyes (Carter is the champion here). For a while, the gleeful splatter proves quite charming. Ultimately, overindulging in gore at the expense of everything reduces an irresistibly enjoyable 80s throwback into a sporadically fun mess.

Author rating: 5.5/10

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