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New Netflix show Mindhunter gets inside the mind of a criminal

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This stylish noir tale from director David Fincher about a hostage negotiator who becomes fascinated by the mind of criminals is heading to Netflix and, with it, some insightful questions into what makes a criminal are being raised.

Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) is an FBI man, more concerned with preventing crimes before they take place than dealing with them once they happen. He starts to think about how to handle violent criminals when their motives are becoming more elusive.

Gone are the days when crimes were committed out of passion or revenge. There are more confusing elements at work here and Holden believes that it’s wrong to just see everyone as good or evil, crazy or sane.

One of the most fascinating moments of the opening episode comes when Holden is faced with a room of cops used to taking down the bad guys. Instead of just shooting them, he argues, why don’t we look a little closer, dig a little deeper. Try to find common ground, feel empathy and understand what has led them to where they are now.

He goes on to use an example of a man so universally hated that the response he gets to his question is shock and anger.

One cop says that if he were in a room with the murderer, he’d kill him and nobody would stop him.

But what made him like this? Holden asks.

He was born that way, comes the response.

And therein lies Holden’s fascination.

While many are happy to see criminals as ‘other’, to lump them into one group of people who need to be stopped or removed from society altogether, he starts to think more about background and events leading to the crime.

Why did they do this horrific thing? Why in this particular way? And why now? Was there a point where somebody could have intervened earlier and prevented it?

He’s not trying to excuse their behaviour, merely understand it. But his way of thinking is not met with very much support, especially when he starts suggesting he talk with the criminals themselves about their crimes.

As Holden starts to date a sociology student, he also starts to learn about studies and theories that suggest perhaps criminals are a reflection of the society at large. If the government is corrupt or the country is being led by a liar then why shouldn’t the criminals within it be connected to that corrupt leadership?

And in a world where we frequently hear generalisations and labels, it’s great to have someone saying that perhaps we need to spend more time thinking about motive and background, to realise that not all criminals are exactly the same, that people are not simply born evil but are instead perhaps shaped into the person they will later become.

Mindhunter features Jonathan Groff (Looking), Holt McCallanay (Sully), Anna Torv (Fringe) and Hannah Gross (Unless). The series is directed by David Fincher (Gone Girl, The Social Network, Zodiac), Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna), Tobias Lindholm (A War, A Hijacking) and Andrew Douglas (The Amityville Horror, U Want Me 2 Kill Him?).

Fincher, Joshua Donen (Gone Girl, The Quick and the Dead), Charlize Theron (Girlboss, Hatfields & McCoys) and Cean Chaffin (Gone Girl, Fight Club) are executive producers.

Mindhunter arrives on Netflix on 13th October.

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