Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Mindcage: Martin Lawrence Gets Dramatic

Thanks to Silence of the Lambs, dozens of subsequent movies and books featured cops seeking the advice of convicted serial killers to catch newer psychopaths. In real life, this sounds like an incredibly bad strategy, with little up-side. Regardless, people still assume serial killers are all geniuses and the killers themselves style themselves as transgressive artistes, when they are really just cruel, anti-social murderers. The serial killer known as “The Artist” took it to extreme levels. A frighteningly consistent copycat has adopted his M.O., but seeking his insight turns out to be about as dangerous as a rational person would suspect in Mauro Borrelli’s Mindcage, which releases Friday in theaters and on VOD.

Before he was captured and convicted,
The Artist would pose his victims in elaborate art installations that he called his “masterpieces.” Det. Jake Doyle was part of the team that caught him, but his late partner was killed that fateful night, in a bizarre, almost spoilery kind of way. Now he is working the copycat case with Det. Mary Kelly, who will be the one visiting The Artist in prison, because she has a psych degree and no prior history with The Artist that he could use against her.

Of course, he can miraculously tell Kelly where to find clues hidden within the bodies and crime scenes. As the spectacular killings continue, the reluctant authorities even start to consider cutting a deal with The Artist, but that most definitely does not sit well with Doyle.

has been billed as Martin Lawrence’s first role outside of comedy (assuming you do not count Do the Right Thing, which would probably be his most borderline previous film). The truth is, his performance as Doyle is the best thing going for Mindcage. There is a big twist involving his character that maybe you might guess or maybe you won’t, but he does a nice job reflecting it on-screen.

It is still fun to watch John Malkovich chew the scenery as The Artist, but he looks a little tired with the hammy schtick this time around. However, Neb Chupin adds some odd color as Dr. Loesch, the weirdly solicitous prison shrink. Melissa Roxburgh brings a professionalism to the film that holds up rather well compared to some of her more flamboyant co-stars, but Kelly’s backstory and personal life subplots are duller than dishwater.

It is hard to decide whether the look of the film is best described as “lurid” or “cheap.” Yet, somehow, the low budget works with the grotesque visuals to create a feverish vibe.
Mindcage sort of works in spite of itself. The film is a strange wild card fans of Lawrence and Malkovich might enjoy, when it opens Friday (12/16) in New York, the Cinema Village.