Taking Lives

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner19/04/2004

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 103 minutes

Slickly made, well acted but frequently laughable thriller - though still better than anything Jolie has made in the last few years.

It’s always the way – you wait ages for a trashy serial killer flick with a female lead and then two come along at once. Or rather, they would have done, only Twisted (upcoming trashy serial killer flick starring Ashley Judd) opted not to share its release date with Taking Lives and has now gone back to July.

It was probably a wise move, as not only are they remarkably similar, but Taking Lives is also, marginally, the better of the two, thanks to better acting and some impressive direction by Caruso.

Reluctant Profiler Investigates Murder

Angelina Jolie stars as one of those brainy FBI Profiler types – we first meet her lying on her back in a freshly opened grave, which is screenwriting shorthand for “dark, troubled and interesting”. She’s reluctantly called in to help out in a case in Montreal, except that Moody Cop Olivier Martinez thinks they are perfectly capable of solving the case without her help, thankyouverymuch. (Could he, in fact, be THE KILLER?)

Not one to mess about, Special Agent Jolie quickly theorizes that the killer is “life-jacking” and stealing the identities of his victims. (Exactly how this works is never really made clear). When Tortured Artist Type Ethan Hawke shows up as a witness - and therefore the killer’s next assumed target - Jolie surprises herself (and, frankly, us) by finding herself attracted to him.

However, Hawke acts a little strangely at times - could he, in fact, be THE KILLER? And just what is creepy Kiefer Sutherland doing, hiding in the shadows and turning up to sneer occasionally? Could HE, in fact, be THE KILLER?

Enjoyable But Ridiculous

Both the film and the cleverly designed poster (the other figure is a composite of all three actors) do a decent job of attempting to conceal the killer’s identity, though it isn’t hard to figure out, particularly if you’ve ever seen a trashy serial killer thriller before.

The film does have a few things in its favour: the cinematography is impressive and rainy Montreal makes a nice change of locale. There’s also at least one brilliantly shocking moment which works well, despite being more or less nicked from Seven.

The cast are good, too – this is Jolie’s best performance in quite some time and her character is extremely likeable. (There are also a couple of Shallow And Obvious Reasons to see the film, courtesy of a pretty decent sex scene). Hawke is equally good and there’s strong support from Sutherland, Martinez and Tcheky Karo (playing a nice guy for once) as one of the detectives.

In short, despite its ridiculous plot twists, gaping plot holes and laughably stupid ending, Taking Lives is enjoyable enough to qualify as a ‘Good Bad Movie’, thanks to its decent performances and its atmospheric direction.

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Content updated: 12/12/2019 06:42

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