Alexandra Holden in Mind Games (2006) (aka: A Trick of the Mind)

Too Obvious for Mind Games

"Mind Games" or "A Trick of the Mind" as it is also called is one of those movies where a person with a fragile mind is manipulated to think they are going crazy. It is by no means a new idea as back in 1940 there was "Gaslight" which used a similar idea and there have been numerous other movies which have toyed with the same idea. And sadly "Mind Games" is not a great example of one of these movies, in fact it is rather a forced example which makes it very obvious as to what is going on and who is up to no good. As such "Mind Games" is at best just average TV movie, pepped up by a performance or two but little else.

Following a car accident which killed her parents Jamie (Alexandra Holden - In & Out) blames herself for their death and suffers a mental breakdown leading to a 3 month stay in hospital. But on getting out and heading to Louisiana to do some volunteer work she returns with a surprise, a husband as she met Michael (Paul Johansson - Alpha Dog), also a volunteer who had a similar past to her. Everything seems great as they set about running the multimillion pound property empire which Jamie inherited but that is until a Private Investigator tells Jamie that Michael is not who she thinks he is and she should be wary. Quickly things spiral out of control as Jamie starts experiencing things that Michael can't see and it seems she is losing her mind and on the verge of another breakdown.

Paul Johansson in Mind Games (2006) (aka: A Trick of the Mind)

Now it certainly feels like "Mind Games" takes an age to get going, we have the car accident which kills Jamie's parents, the mental breakdown as she is haunted by visions of them and a subsequent 3 month stay in a mental institution before Jamie then goes to Louisiana to help with a housing project. You begin to wonder where this is going especially with those visions of her parents which Jamie encounters and you wonder whether this will be the focus of the movie, Jamie being haunted because she feels guilty for their deaths due to them arguing whilst driving.

But then it quickly becomes apparent what "Mind Games" is going to be about when Jamie meets Michael and lo and behold he says that his dad died when they argued and likewise the argument they were having because he didn't want to be involved in his dad's family business. It is so forced that any chance of it being just a coincidence disappears and immediately we suspect the Michael has done his homework and is trying to somehow get his hands on Jamie's inheritance, a fortune and business empire. And sadly when Jamie starts seeing a woman watching her, who turns out be a Private Investigator, it doesn't take a genius to work out her connection when Michael claims he doesn't see her.

So basically "Mind Games" becomes very obvious as to what is happening, as in Michael trying to manipulate the fragile minded Jamie so he can have her committed and take the business for himself and we also can easily work out his accomplice because it is all so forced. Now this wouldn't be so bad if the way Michael makes Jamie become crazy was more inspired but sadly it isn't, in fact for a woman who is so fragile he misses plenty of opportunity in favour of unimaginative tricks. And it wouldn't be so bad if it managed to toy with us as to whether anyone else other than the two prime suspects are involved but it doesn't. But what is worse is the far fetched way this all gets solved as Jamie manages to discover the truth; a truth so far fetched it is corny.

The thing is that whilst "Mind Games" is far fetched this storyline is nothing less than you expect from a TV thriller, plot holes, too many contrivances and plenty of other issues. And sadly those issues extend to the performances because everything seems over acted be it the way Jamie and Michael coo over each other in public to his coldness when he manages to get her back in the mental hospital. It's just wrong and whilst many will remember Paul Johansson as the sinister Dan Scott in "One Tree Hill" none of that sinister ness makes it into his character here. It ends up that the most entertaining character is fellow patient at the mental hospital, Chrissie played by Jennifer Shirley because she is crazy in a comical way which breaks up the monotony of everything else.

What this all boils down to is that "Mind Games" is just about an average made for TV thriller which uses the old idea of a person with a fragile mind made to think they are going mad. It suffers from plot holes, over acting and a general sense of being forced which makes it very obvious and so for those who enjoy trying to work out what is going on will be disappointed because it reveals itself far too early.