Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: A Crime Lab; Taking Lives documentary;
Gag reel; Trailer; Trailer for Troy.
ANGELINA Jolies Taking Lives may be about a serial killer
who assumes the lives and identities of his victims, but it could
just as easily apply to the movie itself, which consistently occupies
The film contains elements of Se7en,
The Talented Mr Ripley and Jolies own The Bone Collector,
to name but a few, before eventually going it alone and becoming
quite nasty, as a result.
Jolie stars as the eccentric Special Agent Illeana Scott, who
is called in to help detectives, in Montreal, get inside the head
of an elusive killer, who appears to be life-jacking
The killer in question would appear to have been operating for
the past 20 years, but, for the first-time, the cops have a witness,
in the form of Ethan Hawkes struggling art dealer, James
Costa, who stops the psychopath in the act.
In doing so, Costa finds himself the next target, and is quickly
seized upon by the police as bait, but matters are complicated
when Scott finds herself romantically drawn to the charismatic
hero as well.
Thrown into this volatile mix are the likes of Olivier Martinezs
arrogant young detective, who resents Scotts presence for
seemingly no reason, and Kiefer Sutherlands dubious stranger,
who becomes the investigators lead suspect.
Loosely based on the novel by Michael Pye, Taking Lives starts
off as an intriguingly creepy serial killer thriller, in the atmospheric
mould of Se7en, before losing its way completely, amid a torrent
of illogical plot twists and unlikely character developments.
By failing to stick to the source material, however, director,
DJ Caruso, tends to lose sight of the films focus, straying
into the action thriller and erotic drama genres, as the psychological
aspect of the plot becomes increasingly less coherent.
Whats worse, is that the identity of the killer quickly
becomes apparent, thereby hindering the films ability to
surprise by about the halfway stage.
Such failures are forgivable for the first three quarters of
proceedings, during which the film stays the right side of entertaining,
but when Caruso opts for cheap shock tactics, as in the final
moments, viewers are left with a bitter taste in the mouth.
There can really be no justification for showing scenes of a
pregnant woman being beaten up and, by doing so, the film feels
Of the performances, Jolie acquits herself well in the lead role,
displaying a nice mix of feistiness and vulnerability, but too
many of the other performers feel under-used. Sutherland, especially,
isnt allowed enough screen-time to justify his presence
(or billing), while Martinezs over-eager detective warrants
greater exploration than he is given, and also feels wasted.
And while the set pieces are competently handled, they increasingly
feel as though they are being employed to mask the plots
failings, which once more diminishes the impact of the early stages.
Serial killer enthusiasts who relish being tested will lament
the way this plays out, as, by the time it reaches its grisly
conclusion, they probably wont credit Taking Lives with
anything other than taking liberties.