Film Reviews

TAKING LIVES

By • Mar 19th, 2004 •

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Warner Bros. in association with Village Roadshow Pictures presents a Mark Canton production
Running time — 103 minutes / MPAA rating: R

Like you, I’ve lost confidence in Angelina Jolie. Can Jolie actually pull off playing an FBI profiler? Surprisingly, she does.

FBI profiler Illeana Scott (Angelina Jolie) is sent to Montreal to help a police chief friend (Tchécky Karyo) investigate a serial killer. She is one of those profilers (MANHUNTER) who gets inside the mind of the killer to intuit clues. The two detectives on the case, Paquette (the sadly under-used Olivier Martinez) and Duval (Jean-Hugues Anglade) resent Scott’s involvement and unorthodox methods. James Costa (Ethan Hawke), a painter, witness to a brutal killing, is brought in, and then enlisted to join the investigation as “bait.”

The homosexual subtext is set up early as we see the killer as a young man. The killer takes on the identity of his victims merrily living their lives until he decides to move on to another victim. But, as we shall see, the homosexual angle is a ruse!

This being a serial killer thriller, the rest of the story, plot twists, and clever ending cannot be discussed here. Director D.J. Caruso does a terrific job evoking an eerie SE7EN homage and guides Jolie with a strong hand. Jolie’s face conveys intelligence, and thankfully, Scott is smart and does not make any stupid moves. I still think that Clarice Starling (THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS) was pretty dumb walking into pitch black Buffalo Bill’s hell house alone. Jolie drops her clipped, un-natural speech patterns (BEYOND BORDERS) and gives a relaxed, uncomplicated performance. There is the requisite movie star “You are so beautiful” moment. There are several red herrings to keep us guessing and a sexually-charged attraction between Scott and Costa that works. This is perhaps the most intricate character Hawke has played and he does quite a skillful job. I was scared.

Unfortunately, there is not enough Olivier Martinez.

I do not know if the novel TAKING LIVES is based on took place in Canada; however, setting it in Montreal gives Martinez a movie role where his heavily-French accented English is appropriate. And Montreal is a rather nice, fresh setting.

Caruso sets up the story nicely with a flashback to the serial killer’s beginnings. There were enough tense moments to keep me looking through my fingers. Once again, Phillip Glass delivers a creepy soundtrack.


Credits:
Director: D.J. Caruso
Screenwriter: Jon Bokenkamp
Based on a novel by: Michael Pye
Producers: Mark Canton, Bernie Goldman
Executive producers: Bruce Berman
David Heyman
Director of photography: Amir M. Mokri
Production designer: Tom Southwell
Music: Philip Glass
Costume designer: Marie-Sylvie Deveau
Editor: Anne V. Coates

Cast:
Illeana: Angelina Jolie
Costa: Ethan Hawke
Hart: Kiefer Sutherland
Mrs. Asher: Gena Rowlands
Paquette: Olivier Martinez
Duval: Jean-Hugues Anglade
Leclair: Tcheky Karyo

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