Taking Lives


Directed by: D.J. Caruso
Written by:Jon Bokenkamp
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland, Gena Rowlands, Olivier Martinez
Released: April 17, 2004
Grade: C

I've been known to pick the twist in a thriller pretty early on in the film.  But never before can I claim to have picked the twist from the trailer.  Until now.

Taking Lives is a feeble attempt at a motion picture.  It doesn’t even try to keep its secrets hidden.  The serial killer plot appears to have been wrapped up after about an hour.  Does the director seriously think we’re all sitting in our seats going “well that’s over, let’s get out of here”?  You only have to look at your watch to know there’s a lot more to go.  In other words, the person who they thought was the killer, was not the killer.

I haven’t identified any names just in case you do want to see this film.  It all centres on a body being found at a construction sight.  Specially called by the police is an FBI agent named Illeana (Jolie) who immediately goes to the crime scene and miraculously puts together a perfect profile.  Within 24 hours, there’s a similar murder only this time there was a witness – a guy known as Costa (Hawke).

He provides a composite sketch and now they have a suspect.  Illeana’s “psychic” abilities enable her to pinpoint what this suspect has been doing.  For over 20 years, he has been killing people and assuming their identities.  If this sounds familiar, you should rent the Talented Mr. Ripley on video.  If you’ve already seen it, you need to see it again.  It’s a wonderful film and puts Taking Lives to shame.

There’s an ending to this mayhem which is dumb and stupid.  Again, I won’t go into details.  Not because I don’t want to spoil it, but rather because I couldn’t be stuffed wasting the effort.  These serial killer flicks are all the same.  What is our fascination with them?  There aren’t that many you know.

The performances don’t warrant a mention either.  Angelina Jolie now finds her career in a definite rut and she clearly needs guidance to choose better roles.  Viewers need to be wary of a few gruesome scenes but frankly, viewers need to be wary of the whole production.  The only lives that needed taking were those of the film’s creators.