Taking Lives

Taking Lives


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Jodie Foster is fine. Julianne Moore is fine. What is it about Angelina Jolie that makes her unsuitable for the FBI? Her hands are too clean; she can't walk into a room without seducing it; she's all lips and chest and legs that say, "This is the real thing, Mr Bad Guy."

Don't take this movie seriously and you'll enjoy it. The cinematographer has a crush on Jolie, which means that she looks like a Marvin Gaye song title, even when the lights are out. The director must have tested his affectations on pop videos, because this is one tricksy visual ride, not that it hurts, because the story makes little sense and a playful camera is a cool diversion.

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Ever since Se7en, serial killers have to be crazy/smart, self-confident to a fault and kill people in nasty ways, leaving a trademark, because they have egos and like watching duffer detectives follow false leads. Almost every shot in Taking Lives has been plagiarised from another movie. If originality is on a short leash, style trickles down.

All the cops in Montreal are famous French actors (Olivier Martinez, Tcheky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade), none of whom are the slightest convincing. This is not their fault. The movie is about Jolie, not them. She, by the way, has a name, Illeana Scott, who has been sent to Canada to help solve a series of mysterious killings.

Like Agent Scully in The X-Files, she's trained to dissect cadavers and discover cause of death, as well as other important details the regular docs have missed. She doesn't talk much. It's all in the eyes. She is - how you say? - watchful.

A screwed up psycho from a rich family has been garrotting strangers and taking their identity, "like a hermit crab." When he's about to be exposed, he murders someone else and becomes that person for a while. And so it goes on.

The concept is good, but there are so many holes below the plotline, it sinks. Ethan Hawke turns up as a dodgy art dealer and, for a brief moment, becomes one of the suspects, but the true purpose for his existance appears to be Illena's future squeeze, which is taking credulity to the cliff top and tossing it off - she may be sexy, but she's not a complete idiot - as well as living bait for the killer.

What is so annoying about Taking Lives is that, despite its gaping flaws, it glides through your consciousness like an eel through a net.

Reviewed on: 22 Apr 2004
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Taking Lives packshot
Lippy, leggy FBI agent goes to Montreal to find a serial killer.
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Director: D J Caruso

Writer: Jon Bokenkamp, from the novel by Michael Pye

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland, Gena Rowlands, Olivier Martinez, Tcheky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Paul Dano, Justin Chatwin

Year: 2004

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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