Taking Lives (2004) 


Ebert: Rolling Stone: TV Guide:




















Warning, minor plot points revealed!

I am sick and tired of all the negative Angelina Jolie criticism.  Both her personal and professional life are constantly being condemned.  Yes she's somewhat eccentric, but no more than any other famous person.  The problem I believe is that Angelina Jolie is unquestionably the most attractive person on this planet.  She is so drop dead gorgeous that no one can really relate to her.  Her perfect goddess-like beauty is intimidating and disconcerting.  I'm not saying movies like the Tomb Raider Series are brilliant work (although I would argue that within their genre they are masterpieces) but she is a great actress.  

Mystery thrillers are a tough genre.  It's really hard to come up with plot twists that surprise anymore.  In the post Silence of the Lambs, Seven, The Usual Suspects era nothing seems original anymore.  Taking Lives doesn't bring anything new to the table, but it does present some exciting plot turns and scares.  

The story follows FBI profiler, Special Agent Illeana Scott who is called to Montreal to investigate a serial killer who we soon find out is taking on the identities of his victims.  During the course of the investigation Scott develops a romantic interest with an eye witnesses to one of the murders.  As Scott and the French Canadian detectives close in on the killer they realize that he may have always been one step ahead of them.

The comparisons to the above mentioned movies will give you a good idea about what to expect.  Imagine if Agent Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs was investigating the murders in Seven with the help of witness Verbal Kint from The Usual SuspectsThat's Taking Lives.  

The special effects of the movie primarily consist of creepy atmosphere and dead mutilated corpses.  The killer bashes in the victims heads and removes their hands to prevent identification so this provides some nice gory effects.  There are a few really good scares too so hang onto your seats!

The actors all do a fine job and I like everyone in the cast.  Angelina, as always, is excellent but is also, as always, somewhat distracting.  Ethan Hawke does a fine job as the jittery witness and eventual love interest.  Kiefer Sutherland does what he does best and the rest of the cast is mostly rounded out with foreign talent.  Olivier Martinez and Jean-Hugues Anglade (Eric from the awesome film Killing Zoe) are the local detectives assigned to the investigation.  And Tchéky Karyo is a Turkish born French actor who I always enjoy.  

I went to the sneak preview of this movie so if you're reading this prior to March 19th, 2004 you still have a few days to wait, but it's definitely worth seeing.  There are a bunch of great movies out now and coming out over the next couple weeks as the Spring movie season begins.  If you like mystery thrillers and Angelina Jolie then this is not one to miss.  It will play OK on TV if you want to wait for the DVD but if you're waiting out the long winter in frozen horrible places like Michigan or Ohio then you might as well spend your dreary days watching a good movie.