Taking Lives
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir DJ Caruso
scr Jon Bokenkamp
with Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland, Olivier Martinez, Tcheky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Gena Rowlands, Paul Dano, Marie-Josee Croze, Henri Pardo, Andy Bradshaw, Justin Chatwin
release US 19.Mar.04, UK 23.Apr.04
04/US 1h43

Meet the press: Martinez and Jolie

jolie hawke sutherland
Taking Lives Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
Here's another deeply formulaic thriller with high production values and a strong cast slumming their way through an appallingly predictable script. It has its moments, and is always watchable, but why bother when we've seen it so many times before? Just look at the cast list; assuming you've read nothing about this film, you already know whodunit and who they want us to think is the killer!

Illeana (Jolie) is an FBI profiler called in to help with a brutal serial murder case in Montreal. The local cops (Martinez, Karyo and Anglade) aren't thrilled by her presence, even after she cleverly spots key clues here and there. A witness to one murder, Costa (Hawke), provides the first tangible evidence, while an elegant but cranky woman (Rowlands) adds a wrinkle to the mystery, and a sinister figure (Sutherland) lurks in the margins. Can the cops put all the pieces together before the killer strikes again? And can they put aside their personal issues to solve the case?

Caruso directs the film with that anonymous sheen we see in this genre--stylish but uninventive, while seemingly oblivious to either the plot's clunkiness or the ludicrously contrived character arcs. The film looks fantastic, and all of the actors are quite good (until it goes silly), helped by having award-winners like Sutherland, Rowlands, Dano and Crozee in micro-roles. Jolie holds the film together effortlessly in the role usually played by either herself or Ashley Judd in these movies, complete with quirky behaviour and one "passionate" sex scene in which she earns her stripes as a contortionist! There are plenty of scenes that make us jump--mostly red herrings or completely illogical plot turns, but at least they're great fun. We're never in danger of falling asleep as we watch Bokenkamp ("story and screenplay by"--does he have no shame?) press all the buttons on cue, complete with fake-out ending and various explanatory codas. None of which is remotely surprising, even if it will make you squeal with mock-terrified glee. Ah yes, that's why we watch these films!

cert 15 themes, language, grisliness, violence, sex 23.Mar.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Taking Lives L Taylor, Minneapolis: 2/5 "Angelina Jolie is an FBI profiler who has come to help find a serial killer, and the guys don't want her help. The character is good, but odd - she is found laying in a grave where a body was found, and she puts gory pictures of victims over her bed to help her sleep or solve the crime? Not sure - and it is never really explained. Ethan Hawke plays a spooky part, and Kiefer Sutherland is becoming known for scary bit parts - his voice alone can give you the willies - and he does that here once more. Someone is going around killing men and assuming their identities, and their first clue is when his mother tells them she has seen her son who was supposedly killed years ago in a car accident. The hunt is on! And while there were a few twists, the fun part was seeing if I figured out correctly who the bad guy was before the end. I did - can you? But because I did, it made me like the film less. I would have preferred a twist ending. But it was a pretty good story and entertaining movie - even if I could figure it out." (21.Mar.04)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall