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Taking Lives (2004)
Director: D.J. Caruso

review by Robin Landry

Illeana Scott (Angelina Jolie, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) has problems. She's an FBI profiler called to Montreal to solve the case of a serial killer. Illeana's first problem is that she's become a profiler to catch bad guys because she accidentally killed one while in her teens. How this makes sense, I don't know and the movie doesn't explain. Her second problem is that she's attracted to the kind of guys that she's hunting. This is more understandable but probably not that obvious (hate is the flipside of the love coin, not its opposite´┐Ż but back to the movie).

Angelina Jolie is great in this dark movie probably because she dances on the razor's edge in real life. She finds her character's motivation real enough to pour her acting skills into, turning in a wonderful performance. Tcheky Karyo is great as the police chief in charge of the case, showing us through their exchanges that Illeana does have a human side. They hint at an earlier relationship at Quantico where Illeana trained to be an FBI agent, but we don't get any details.

Ethan Hawke (Training Day) gets to play the wimpy art dealer named Jimmy Costa. He's brought onto the case because he interrupted the killer bashing the latest victim's head in. Illeana falls for Jimmy, which jeopardises her ability to remain clearheaded about the case, though why such a strong and capable woman would fall for such a sissy is beyond me.

Olivier Martinez (Unfaithful) plays a pouting pretty boy detective who hates Illeana from the start. Whether this is because his macho pride is hurt at having a woman on the case, or because she doesn't instantly fall for his good looks, we never know. Their relationship is hostile from the first and never changes. What might have made things interesting is if he and Illeana had gotten together instead of Illeana and Jimmy, and a lot more understandable.

Keifer Sutherland (24) has a small role, as a man stalking Jimmy, whom the police assume is the killer. Sutherland is always spooky-good, but in this role he's wasted. Gena Rowlands plays the killer's mother. Partway through the movie we find out that the killer had a twin brother who died mysteriously while boating with his killer-twin. I kept waiting to be told the reason the killer hated his twin brother. Maybe it had something to do with their father but the movie didn't bother answering questions like these, which would have given the story more depth, or at least a reason for being. We've probably all seen enough serial killer movies by now. The only reason to make another one would be to find out the motivation of a serial killer, not just to make us cringe at the crime scene pictures.

I can't say much about the plot of the movie without giving away a genuinely surprising ending. D.J. Caruso does a fine job directing the movie, and gives it a lot of atmosphere but I found the love scene just a bit silly. Let's just say that for as much as it showed of Jolie's naked body, it wasn't all that realistic as far as how things work, therefore the whole scene took me out of the movie as I tried to figure out how the two actors could have gotten things done. Because of this scene and a whole lot of grisly photos, this movie was rated R though I wanted the uncut version so I can't say how much more I might have seen. It was more than enough.
Taking Lives

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