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If you have intelligence, prepare to have it insulted
iago-630 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is BAD. I knew going in that it was going to be bad, but I enjoy a good cheesy thriller every now and then. Still, there are some points of badness that really pass the point of any redeeming value. It's a shame, because it had a great cast. Angelina is turning into one of those actresses that one likes in SPITE of her work. It's too bad she can't find something to take advantage of her uniqueness. But anyway.

The rest of this will be filled with COPIOUS SPOILERS, because we're going to pick the movie apart for the benefit of readers who have already seen it.

Oh dear, where to begin?

Let's begin with Ethan. I think it would have been MUCH more interesting to establish from the beginning (or about halfway through) that he was the killer (I mean intentionally. not just by making it so obvious to anyone who has seen a serial killer movie before, or, scratch that, anyone who has seen a MOVIE before). If you knew he was the killer they could develop this thing about WHY did he choose to put himself at the center of this investigation into his crimes? They could have played it off that he picked Angelina beforehand to manipulate. That would have been interesting. As it stands, once it's revealed that he's the killer, the whole entirety of his performance up til that point doesn't make any sense, and misses so many of the intriguing possibilities described above.

This is one of those movies where it seems the writer and director just hope you won't think too hard (or at all) about what happened before the moment unfolding on screen.

There was zero chemistry between Angelina and Ethan. They set up Angelina as this cool and confident FBI agent who's seen it all. why would she fall for this whiny loser artist? Her supposedly falling for him had 'Plot Twist' written all over it, because it betrayed the character, and the audience who had built up good feeling for her in spite of the screenplay. I also resented how she turned into such a broken shell of a woman after the 'shock' of Ethan being the killer was 'revealed.' Come on, the script had built her up as much more psychologically solid than that. If there had been the slightest heat between her and Ethan, we might have believed that her overwhelming passion 'clouded her judgment,' which is what I think we're supposed to believe, but it just fails spectacularly and ends up p**sing the audience off.

And while I don't want to be overly PC, there is really NO excuse for Angelina to say that it's OKAY for another (male) detective to HIT her (hard, too), especially when the reason he's hitting her is for being a weak woman who let her emotions cloud her judgment. I blame Angelina personally for that one, because she should have said 'No WAY am I shooting that.' It would be another thing if it added ANYTHING to the movie. Grrrr..

Ah, what else? I really enjoyed Keifer's 3.7 seconds of screen time.

I LOVED how the detective who is supposedly protecting Ethan--who is being shuttled out of the city because he's in so much danger--leaves him alone in the apartment for like five minutes (while one of the numerous red herrings of course shows up and attacks him) while he just waits outside by the car. Later a character says what a shame it is that a good cop like him got killed, and I was like, 'Good cop my ass! That doofus deserved it!'

And the whole thing about Angelina lying in the grave goes absolutely nowhere.

And who did that guy under the bed turn out to be? Did I miss the cursory explanation?

Someone just needs to issue a moratorium on generic serial killer movies with pointless plot twists for the sake of having plot twists. This is one of those movies with so many pointless twists and so many deliberate deceptions of the audience that eventually you just start to resent it. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy a good old cheesy serial killer movie, like The Bone Collector, which was equally ridiculous, but in a fun way. but this one shows contempt of its audience and just pisses me off. Do these films make enough money anymore that they really still need to be made? I guess there has to be SOMETHING to show on airplanes.

And Angelina, seriously, drop me a line and I will WRITE you a script. In the meantime, you know dear, if you can imagine Ashley Judd being in it just as easily as yourself, maybe it's time to steer clear.

Oh, oh dear.

--- Check out website devoted to bad and cheesy movies: www.cinemademerde.com
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Taking Stuff, from other films
The_Void3 April 2006
There are a lot of these crime thrillers about. Some, such as Copycat and Insomnia, offer a surprisingly good time; but more often than not, these films are a lot more like Murder by Numbers and The Bone Collector, and unfortunately; Taking Lives is like the latter. That being said, the film certainly isn't all bad; and definitely does have its moments. The plot has little regard for consistency or logic, as it constantly switches gears and throws in any number of events that are clearly there for dramatic effect and haven't been thought out properly. The film is an obvious derivative of successful nineties thriller, 'Seven' and some scenes, such as the entry into the murderer's home have been taken wholesale from the superior movie. The plot has a lot of elements, but we principally follow FBI agent Illeana Scott as she travels to Montreal in order to help their police force with a case that involves a serial killer who, not content to simply murder his victims, takes their identity and lives their lives for a period before moving onto his next victim.

The cinematography is dark and glossy, and sleazy settings mean that it's always a lot like Fincher's earlier flick. The pace of the film is poorly paced, as sometimes it's fast and furious, while at other times it's very dull. At almost an hour and fifty minutes, the film is too long; and a better editing job is definitely in order. The final half hour is of particular note for being poorly judged. It's far too slow, and means that rather than being memorable; the conclusion is tepid and disorientated. The first twist can be seen coming a mile off, and the way that it is revealed disregards logic for dramatic effect. The final twist doesn't work well either, as everything is far too convenient. It seems that in their effort to outdo all the other films in its class, the writers have forgotten that for dramatic effect to work, it needs to make sense. The acting is good enough, and it's obvious why the dark and mysterious Angelina Jolie was cast in the lead. Ethan Hawke, who I seem to like more every time I see him, is good; while Kiefer Sutherland is given nothing at all to do. On the whole, this is worth a watch if you've got nothing better to do; but there are better films that are like 'Taking Lives', than Taking Lives.
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Creepy, sinister and moody. But SE7EN it ain't...
Freedomisanillusion15 April 2004
Despite my love of Angelina Jolie, I must say that Taking Lives wasted a lot of good opportunity.

Given that they invented an entirely new lead character, we can't really compare this to the book, so let's look at it as a movie of it's own right.

Jolie plays Illeana Scott, a somewhat strange FBI agent who is called up to Canada to investigate the grisly murders of several young men, all whom have had their identities stolen by the killer. New to the scene is witness James Costa, Ethan Hawke, who soon grows to have an attachment to Scott.

At turns formulaic and down right rip off (the credits are far too similar to be called a homage to SE7EN), Taking Lives is a very enjoyable piece of work.

Beautifully shot, the film wallows in its moods. It knows that it can be creepy, but it wears it out on its sleeves.

Angelina is on top form as Scott, although its a shame that the movie does stoop to the need for quick-sex-scene-with-unnecessary-titty-shot.

Ethan Hawke is bearable as Costa, although he and Jolie have very little chemistry.

Other players, Olivier Martinez, Gena Rowlands, Tcheky Karyo and Jean Hughes-Angalade are also quite good.

The film does have its highs: excellent cinematography, creepy sinister mood, two fantastic adrenaline-jump moments that I never saw coming. But it also has one FATAL flaw, and that is that anyone who has seen any piece of film or television before will be able to guess who the killer is. Still, a fun movie nevertheless.

7/10 If you get the chance to see it in the cinema, watch people's reactions to the 'scissors-scene'. I was amazed to see hoe genuinely horrified even the most hardened viewers in my cinema were.
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Predictable For Movie Buffs, But Still Enjoyable.
BigHardcoreRed28 December 2004
If I had to write a one sentence review for Taking Lives, it would be, "If you have seen a ridiculous amount of thriller movies and have seen all the twists and turns before, then this movie is very predictable, if you haven't, it is worth a look and you may even be surprised." For those that want more, please read on.

I believe the casting for this movie was as close to perfect as they were going to get. Angelina Jolie stars as FBI Agent Illeana Scott. Illeana has both strengths and weaknesses,which are both done in the right way. She is a very smart detective and can pick up clues that many could not and leads the way to many places that the other detectives would never have found. She does not come off as the hardened, tough cop that would have made this movie much worse. Instead, she usually gets the short end of the stick when forced to do physical battle with lowlifes and even other cops. She is flawed and vulnerable but can put up a hell of a fight when needed but relies on her brain to beat a larger and stronger foe. For an example of how to do this the wrong way, see Ashley Judd (of whom I'm also a fan of) in Twisted.

Olivier Martinez plays a character I find hard to like at any part of the film named Paquette. Paquette is a Canadian cop who has issues with bringing the FBI in (I'm not sure if the FBI actually assists in Canadian affairs, but this is just a movie). Olivier seems likable as a person and I'm not familiar with his work, as I'm sure it is mostly French. I'll chalk it up to good acting.

Keifer Sutherland had only what seemed to be a bit part here and could have been used a bit more. He was probably in and out in 2 days of filming.

And finally, Ethan Hawke did a fine job for his role, but I think they could have made a better choice for this character.

As I said earlier, those of us who see many of these types of movies will probably see most of the twists before they happen. Many of them well before they happen. Some of you will know everything that's going to happen before it happens, such as I did, but I still think it was a good story and was entertained. I can honestly recommend this one for at least a rental.
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Taking Lives Entertaining But Predictable
tburke8519 June 2009
Taking Lives is entertaining but predictable from director D.J. Caruso whose admirable in making this thriller but there are flaws that weigh it down. Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke are good as the two leads. Oliver Martinez, Tcheky Karyo, Jean-Hugh Anglade, and Gena Rowlands are effective as the supporting characters but they lack screen time and development because most of the focus is on Jolie. Kiefer Sutherland is solid in a brief extended appearance before being written out of the movie rather quickly. The rest of the cast are okay in their roles but no one stands out. The movie does have a little suspense but it doesn't pay off because the eventual twist I sort of saw coming. There's a little action including a chase that's well executed but the movie could've used more of it. If there was more suspense, action, character development, and a different twist besides the one they went with the film would've have been that bad. Taking Lives starts off decent but after a while it becomes kind of obvious who the killer is and after the reveal there's no more suspense. The pacing was a little slow at times which didn't help either. Lucikly Caruos kept the running time down to 103 minutes so it's not a total waste of time. Overall despite it's flaws Taking Lives is an okay thriller with a little suspense, action, and solid performances by the cast who make this movie worth watching at least once but after it's over you can't help but feel a little disappointed.
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A compendium of serial killer movie clichés,but quite fun for all that
DrLenera26 July 2005
Imagine Seven,The Bone Collector,Kiss The Girls,Red Dragon and a load of similar movies all rolled into one,and you might get something like Taking Lives. It's quite a stylish and sometimes exciting movie,it's just almost completely lacking in originality. It's also pretty obvious who the killer is early on,so the film's plot has to take some very silly twists and turns to try to hide this.

Nevertheless,there is much that is good,perhaps it was realised that the script was mediocre and everybody tried hard to try to overcome this. Director David T. Caruso gives the film a very stylish feel,with some interesting use of camera angles and colour-check out the opening scene,in which the colour has been altered in some way to make it look somewhat dreamlike. A brief but exciting car chase and a murder in a lift are very well staged and edited. Angelina Jolie turns her unbelievable role into something approaching good,and Ethan Hawke almost matches her,especially near the end. Philip Glass's score is terrifically menacing,and the film is well paced,the first half slow but increasingly suspenseful and uneasy,the second half fast and full of action. There is also one 'jump' which really works well,I won't describe it but think of the hand coming out of the grave in Carrie...... The climax is over a little quickly,and gives us a supposed plot twist which is than proved to be fake. It would have been a lot more interesting if said plot twist was real.

Taking Lives never really delves into the twisted minds of it's two main protagonists nor truly gives a sense of evil as,for instance Seven did. It's one of those films that always seems on the verge of being really disturbing or thrilling and never gets there. Nevertheless,if you like serial killer movies,you're probably like this one,even if you will probably be able to guess much of the plot right from the beginning.
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undistinguished thriller
Roland E. Zwick9 January 2005
"Taking Lives" is a standard-issue, run-of-the-mill thriller about a serial killer and the FBI agent determined to capture him. When bodies start piling up in the Montreal area, the agent - an expert in serial killer profiling - is brought in to assist the local authorities in finding the culprit. The perpetrator's modus operandi is to target men roughly his own age and build, murder them in cold blood, then assume their identities. Once he grows tired of living their lives, he proceeds to his next victim. Ethan Hawke plays a man who's witnessed the most recent of the killings and who may now be next in line on the man's hit list.

"Taking Lives" sticks pretty much within the confines of its overworked genre. We have the disgruntled local cop who resents interference from a hotshot outsider; the prime suspect who turns out to be just another of the killer's many victims; and the double twist resolution which really isn't all that hard to see coming twenty minutes or so into the movie. Jolie gives her usual wooden performance as the FBI agent, barely managing to register a single convincing emotion throughout the course of the film. Hawke does his best with the material, though there really isn't much he can do with it apart from going through the motions, which he does reasonably well. Gena Rowlands and Keefer Sutherland are also on hand to lend their talents, but since their roles are fairly miniscule, they don't have much of a chance to display their wares as actors.

Although watchable, "Taking Lives" feels like a weak-spined, half-hearted effort in an already played-out genre. It is an instantly forgettable film.
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For Angelina Jolie's fans only
christian12321 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Angelina Jolie plays Special Agent Illeana Scott, an FBI profiler brought to Quebec to solve the mysteries of a serial killer that assumes the identities of his victims. Working with the disagreeable Quebec police force, Illeana must protect a witness, who is the killer's next potential victim (Ethan Hawke), but their relationship becomes more personal forcing her to question her priorities.

The worst thing a thriller can be is predictable and that's exactly what Taking Lives is, predictable. It was still a decent thriller with some tense moments but the ending is quite obvious. The only reason I rated this film above a five is because of Angelina Jolie. I think she's a terrific actress and she does the best here with a lousy script. She's very convincing and just a treat to watch on screen. If only the rest of the film was as good. It starts off decently enough with a very scary opening. Then it takes a familiar path and everything becomes by the numbers. There was actually one twist that did take me by surprise. It's just too bad that the rest of the film couldn't be like that.

The other performances are quite good and they help keep things moving. Olivier Martinez and Gena Rowlands both give good performances. Kiefer Sutherland was in the movie for about five minutes yet he gets top billing. It's a little silly to hype him up when he actually didn't do anything. The only performance I didn't really like was from Ethan Hawke. He was so unconvincing and so easy to figure out. D.J. Caruso directs and he does a decent job. He isn't that great at creating suspense but he does offer a few chilling and tense moments. There was potential with this project and they really dropped the ball. It could have been a good, stylish thriller but it ends up being a mediocre one. In the end, this film is really just for Angelina Jolie's fans and there are better thrillers out there. Rating 6/10
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Good, creepy, solid thriller
Barky4428 March 2004
Taking Lives is the story of a serial killer who murders loners and usurps their identities for a time before moving on to the next victim. The story centers around an FBI agent (Angelina Jolie) as she tracks the killer down.

I enjoyed this movie. It has the characteristic gore required for such films, but done in a far different way and in a manner that actually contributes to the plot, not just for the sheer shock value. It has the characteristic plot turns and twists designed to keep you guessing, but for the most part they are well thought out and not just gags from over-clever writers. And it does have a rather solid ending. Too many of these "keep you guessing" thrillers disappoint you in the end, this one doesn't.

Angelina Jolie is very solid in this role, redeeming her in my eyes after her stints in the horrible Lara Croft films. The supporting cast is good as well. Ethan Hawke (who plays a man believed to be the next victim) is less believable in his own role, sometimes he plays the character so obviously exaggerated it loses it's substance. This "obviousness" keeps me from giving it a 10, I can only give it an 8.

I am glad to finally have a film actually set in Canada with Canadian characters and locales, and not simply filmed there to save money.
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Promising, but falls apart
E. Catalan3 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
TAKING LIVES is the story of Scott (angelina Jolie) as an FBI agent looking to solve a series of killings along with the Montreal Police department. It appears the killer "adopts" the personality of its victims, going as far as using their credit cards and even paying his taxes. The movie opens with a bang and has a promising outlook. The premise is interesting but, as the movie flows, things fall by the wayside. We never know the real motives behind the supposed killer (played by a very unconvincing Ethan Hawke) and why Keifer Sutherland's character lasts a blink of an eye is really such a waste of talent it made me cringe. The movie holds its pace, with some sudden scares here and there (some cool make up effects for the gore fans) and has a "twist" ending, but all in all, TAKING LIVES could have been a far better film given the main idea of the story. Not bad, but not particularly good either (6* out of 10)
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Entertaining, But Too Easy To Solve
ccthemovieman-121 August 2006
This was a so-so serial killer movie with good and bad marks. The good marks were mainly for keeping the viewer's interest. You don't fall asleep watching this film. Angeline Jolie looks as good as I've ever seen her, facially and figure-wise.

The film loses marks for an easy-to-solve story, some credibility gaps especially later in the movie and too small a part for Keifer Sutherland to get third billing. He has a very short role in here, hardly worth billing which was a bit disappointing.

Also, the French accents by Jean-Hgues Anglade and Tcheky Karyo were hard for me to understand, forcing me to put on the English subtitles.
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Angelina is so much better than this
MLDinTN29 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Angelina Jolie is one of my favs even though she's been in some stinkers lately. This is your basic cliché ridden serial killer film with a twist you can see coming a mile away. Jolie plays an expert serial killer profiler who goes to Canada to work on a case. Just an example of how cliché filled this film was, she realizes there is a hidden door behind a chester just by holding her hand out and feeling a slight draft. As if! And some how, with almost no clues she figures out the killer is stealing people's identities and pieces together his murders over the years even though they were never previously linked. How smart can those Canadian police be?

There was one good scene in which a hand goes through a mattress to surprise the person on top. I didn't know the killer had super human strength like Jason. Jolie also has another of her unnecessary nude scenes. And I'm not sure what all the fuss was about by having Oliver Martinez in this because he plays the generic detective that could have been played by anyone. He doesn't even make a move on Jolie. Ethan Hawk was OK but he still played it over the top to the point it was unrealistic. And at the end with the scissor scene, it was easy to guess what was going to happen there. And once again, it was very unrealistic at the end when it's over and Jolie calmly calls the other detective just to say it's over. I mean she wasn't so smart that she nearly got strangled to death but is so nonchalant after.

FINAL VERDICT: Not very good. The plot is over the top. I'd only recommend it if you have to see very film Jolie's in.
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Something old, something new, something borrowed, something gruesome. . .
Chris Knipp23 March 2004
Taking Lives is a police procedural about a serial killer whose M.O. is to `take' his successive victims' identities as well as their lives. He does this because he doesn't like who he is. His mother (a campy Gena Rowlands) preferred his twin brother and he vents his resentment about this over and over in his life of gruesome crime. This approach to sequential murder is the point of originality in what otherwise in most ways is a quite conventional film. It's directed by D.J. Caruso, a director of many TV cop flicks whose previous full-length movie, The Salton Sea, was a tweaker saga with Val Kilmer and Vincent D'Onofrio that was rich in cheesy atmosphere. This one makes more sense and carries some respectable thrills, but it's not certain it's altogether an improvement.

The movie begins with an intriguingly stylized prologue that shows the young teenage killer on his maiden voyage. He has probably already killed his twin brother. Now he has hit the road armed with a big wad of cash acquired by selling his mother's stolen jewelry, though we don't know all that till later. All we see is a sly, strange boy who meets another youth on a bus, hears his life story, and when the bus gets stuck on the highway, buys a cheap used car for them to continue traveling in. While they're fixing a flat, he pushes his traveling companion in front of a passing truck and his life of murderous identity theft begins.

The staging of this segment is edgy, the lighting baroque, the boys and the landscape vivid. While the filmmakers have our attention they create an original atmosphere that's not ever quite equaled when the story skips forward to the present.

For those of us weaned on Miss Marple, it's a bit of a shock to have a head dick as distractingly pretty as Angelina Jolie, she of the lips. Whether this was a smart career choice for Ms. Jolie is debatable. She works hard to be convincing. Another wrinkle - hardly a new one, though - is that once the killer has been `made', he constantly points out his similarities with her. She's FBI, but she's as focused on killing as he is. She dines and sleeps with photos of bashed heads and lopped limbs perched in front of her: she's a bit ghoulish in her obsession with her work. But serial killers and their chief investigators always bond, if we're to go by the Hannibal Lector stories.

Iliana (Jolie) has been called in by French Canadian homicide detectives, one of whom, Olivier Martinez, has lips as voluptuous as hers. His boss, Tchéky Karyo, is suave and European; but the best of the three, Jean-Hugues Anglade, is merely beat-up looking and real. It's another minor twist that this movie was not only shot in Canada, but is actually set there, though the filmmakers insist on perversely saying it's Montreal, while constantly showing views of Quebec City as establishing shots. All three French actors speak an English that's hard to understand. I could have done without Martinez's glam looks in favor of someone with clearer diction. His mumbles may have worked for him as Diane Lane's Euro-hunk lover in Unfaithful, but for a police procedural, they don't.

As time goes on the baroque cinematography, which casts three quarters of every scene in deep shadow, begins to be as murky as the staccato Frenchified dialogue. Nonetheless the movie is stylish and watchable, up to a point. Ethan Hawke appears as a nervous witness who tries to save one of the murder victims and makes a drawing of the killer. His role evolves into one of the edgiest things he's done. Already ravaged and gaunt from his impending breakup with Uma, poor chap, he gives this his tortured all. It's been a long way from the bland schoolboy role in Dead Poets Society that first brought him notice. Kiefer Sutherland does a turn that has become a cliché for him. The obvious surprises nonetheless still seem surprising, though the finale is pure camp, shameful really. A sudden car chase is irritating and unnecessary, though happily brief.

Since we began with a close look at the killer, throughout the rest we miss his point of view. Even when we get close to him we're teased into thinking we don't know who he is. The audience is left longing for a more intimate picture of the criminal psychopathic mind (à la Highsmith), the sort of thing that the flashback opening sequence hinted at. Throughout one feels that director Caruso is reaching for something a little bit original. He even has a score by Philip Glass, which used to be a distinction. It hardly is any more. There are three movies with Glass music showing right now: this, Secret Window, and The Fog of War. Taking Lives has been widely reviled by critics whose impatience with the genre makes them overlook the fact that it's really a bit above average - if we ignore the crappy final scene.
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Pee Yew! (Spoiler Alert)
Jelliusbeanus3 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The movie seemed to start off holding some promise, but after seeing the interrogation room scene, I had only one hope - that Ethan Hawkes character (Costa) was NOT the bad-guy; otherwise the whole movie would be trite. Turns out my hopes were going to be dashed. This is a prime example of how not to construct a thriller plot. When you start piling on the improbable events, eventually the spell of the film becomes broken and you are left just waiting for it to be over. I could drive a semi through the plot holes in this one. One of the worst offending elements of this film would have to be one of the most basic - Motivation. What is the purpose for the character to return to Montreal? The movie implies that the character kills people, and assumes their lives for several years, before moving on. Obviously, he hasn't been found out about yet - why try to set up Keifer Sutherlands character as the fall-guy? What if the special investigator had been a guy? What if Costa hadn't been left alone with the other inspector? What if Costa had been stopped before crashing the car on the bridge, with the corpse next to him with the fatal stomach wound? The only way his character could have succeeded to that point would have been if he could somehow predict the unpredictable, and that is why this film is so bad. The only thrills and chills here are trying to guess what idiotic event will be tacked on meaninglessly next - the end result was NEVER in question. If you want to see a film of this type done right, see Seven. I wouldn't waste your time on this one - here is two hours of my life I won't get back.
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May not be the most amazing film ever made, but who said it had to be?
katie noseworthy4 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is another similar sounding serial murder mystery. But who said that because it's ordinary it can't keep people interested? While watching the movie, I had always felt this sense of intrigue that kept me interested.

I, like many others, discovered the twist from the very beginning. The fact that Hawke's character was not revealed right away allowed people to keep guessing, or at least continue to doubt themselves. Did it ever occur to anyone that it was purposefully done to make the obvious seem less obvious? I thought scenes such as the "official" plot twist, where it is laid out for the audience were well done, in both acting and suspense.

However, note that I am not a picky person when it comes to enjoying movies. I enjoy movies that continue to keep me on my toes, which this did. It has been compared to movies such as Seven and other such things, saying it's nothing like it, and it's garbage in comparison. When watching this, try not to compare it to something else and see how much you actually like it.
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Caution -- Serial Killer at Work.
Robert J. Maxwell19 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The Canadian film industry has an illustrious history of producing subsidized documentaries and rather slow, thoughtful commercial movies. This one doesn't fit the mold.

The killer offs one victim after another and assumes their identities because he can't bear the fact that his Mom preferred his twin and he can't stand being himself. (Got that?) Angelina Jolie is Illeana, an FBI agent and friend of someone on the Montreal police force who is asked to help out in the case.

There has been a witness to the latest murder, a scared young man who is an artist, Ethan Hawke. Jolie falls for him. The police use him as bait to trap the killer. I'm not sure how that arrangement developed because I found myself a little confused on a few points, this one included. No matter. The man everyone believes to be the murderer, Kiefer Southerland, has about ten minutes of screen time, two of which he spends dead. Case solved, right? So Jolie and Hawke are free to consummate their mutual attraction. They do it in a raw scene in which it is unclear whether Hawke is consuming Jolie or the other way around.

But -- hold on. For some reason, and I say this only because this is another point that left me bemused and wondering if my synapses had shorted out, Hawke reveals himself as the murderer and traps his mother (Gena Rowlands) in an empty elevator. "All I ever wanted was your love," he tells her tenderly just before he slaughters her and saws her head off.

Jolie is fired from the FBI for "egregious poor judgment" and retires to an isolated and thoroughly desolate farm house outside of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She appears to be preposterously pregnant with Hawke's child. Well, when a babe lives alone and helpless and a killer out there is interested in her, we know what will develop. The last ten climactic minutes turn into a woman-in-jep movie. Hawke shows up, throws Jolie around, and finally stabs her in her swollen belly with a pair of scissors. She promptly pulls them out and plunges the scissors into his heart. As Hawke is standing there looking puzzled at his protruding scissors, she reveals that she's not pregnant at all. It's just a foam rubber bladder or something. The whole thing was a trap set by Jolie and the police to catch Hawke. There's no explanation of why she needed the scissors when Jolie, the actress, could have simply vaporized her attacker with her sexual heat.

It's interesting to listen to what Philip Glass, my man, does with the score for an ordinary serial-killer flick. He stretches every ligament to suit his fulgurating minimalism to the demands of trash. A hand reaches out of the darkness and claps Jolie on the shoulder and the act is accompanied by a loud dissonant crash.

Jolie is magnetic. Not just because of her collagenated lips or her huge, knowing eyes, but because she's a presence whenever she's on screen, which is most of the time. Yet I can't think of a single outstanding performance from her, or an exceptional film that she's ever appeared in. I wish she'd get more demanding material.

Ethan Hawke is uninteresting. My judgment about these things is perforce humble but he doesn't seem handsome, and his acting is no better than adequate. And, my God, if this movie needs ANYTHING, it needs a great villain to make up for the ordinariness of the script and the other characters.

It's well photographed and good use is made of locations, and the supporting cast is pretty good. The opening scenes are nicely done too.

But the credits. How did this fad ever get started? Crudely typed letters jiggle on the screen, alternating with shots of a few words from a newspaper headline, and there is this loud, scratchy, metallic, buzzing, jangling music, as if recorded in a lumber mill, to set your nerves on edge in a cheap sort of way.

I don't know. Is it possible to see just one serial killer flick too many?
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Bad plagiarism!
Christian Heynk5 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is just another stupid 7even spin-off! Except that it fails everywhere where 7even succeeded. Angelina Jolie as the cop is not convincing at all, and the so called humorous scene where she talks French to one of the officers who thought she didn't understand him because she is American and who made some nasty jokes is completely unnecessary. It has been done so often that you can already call it a stock item of movies. Ethan Hawke as the serial killer is just a joke. I knew right from the start that he was the serial killer and whenever he tried to sound threatening, I couldn't keep myself from thinking: Oh, how cute, Ethan Hawke wants to be a serial killer, now, let's see, how scary is that? Answer: Not scary at all. Hawke did well in Training day, but only because he was the rookie! Imagine him being Denzel Washington, hah, that would have been fun. Anyway, I am not much of a Jolie fan, and not much of an Hawke fan either, and If you wanna know why, go watch this flick!
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taking liberties, more like
CountZero31310 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
At one point in this film FBI agent Jolie goes to the house of the serial killer to talk with his Mum. She twigs that Mum is 'hiding something', and has blocked off a door to a basement room. Jolie breaks in during the wee small hours, and goes down to the room. She lies on the bed. Suddenly the killer's arm crashes through the bed, grips her, and throws her across the room.

I jumped out of my skin.

But then when I calmed down, I thought: What was the Mum hiding that room for? Why was the killer lying under the bed in a deserted house? Why did he punch THROUGH the bed? Why did he not kill Jolie? That one scene is indicative of this whole movie - sloppy, sub-standard, derivative, join-the-dots with a crayon film-making. Throw in a horror-movie 'boo' shout, and never mind if it makes absolutely no sense in terms of the plot.

Ethan Hawke is the bad guy because there is a complete lack of alternatives provided. Blind Freddie on a galloping horse could spot Hawke for the bad guy. The FBI, ehm, 'expert' not only misses it, she gets into bed with him. Ho-hum.

Jolie, Hawke, Sutherland - quality actors who must have had a collective failure of judgment to sign up to this script. A real stinker.
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barbarella7019 March 2004
Okay. Let's say you're an average movie lover with a penchant for thrillers. You somehow get a job as a movie director (it can happen). You're hired to direct a script called TAKING LIVES. Your brain then begins to spit out scenes from almost every other movie you've ever seen in your 35 year old life. And so, an average movie-goer pays 6 bucks to watch a film compiled from SHADOW OF A DOUBT, SEVEN, ORDINARY PEOPLE, DRESSED TO KILL, PSYCHO, THE BONE COLLECTOR, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, ROSEMARY'S BABY, JAGGED EDGE, FATAL ATTRACTION, MURDER BY NUMBERS, KISS THE GIRLS, TWISTED (I haven't seen it but no matter), ALONG CAME A SPIDER, almost every film by Ridley and Tony Scott, COPYCAT(!), CAPE FEAR, and AN EYE FOR AN EYE. The only reason critics -certain critics- are giving anything other than a big fat raspberry to this tired, TIRED drivel is probably because they've crossed into some other boundary. They're probably so beyond burnt-out having seen the same film for about 40 years they have no idea what they're looking at any more. (Note to filmmakers: Robert Altman once made a film called THE LONG GOODBYE where he brilliantly deconstructed the gangster/mystery genre. It still is fresh, suspenseful, engaging, and quite refreshing. Think about it.)
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Insulting to the viewer....
innocuous7 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I resent being treated like an idiot by the director/writer.

1. An FBI agent with a minor caliber handgun? Not likely. An agent may whine and moan, but he/she carries a standard weapon.

2. An obvious and proved potential victim/witness is allowed to stroll around, and leave town completely, with minimal police protection/surveillance? I don't think so.

3. Jolie's haircut is so irritating to her eyes that the stray strands make her eyes blink involuntarily in several scenes. Nobody in a responsible position would keep his/her hair in that condition or style.

4. The witness's protective police detail mysteriously drops from four officers inside the building to one patrol car outside the building in less than 24 hours...just as a suspect conceals himself inside the building.

5. Two officer arrive on a scene and search an apartment that may have a perpetrator inside, with plenty of pre-planning and advance notice, but there's not a single uniformed cop for perimeter control, nor a photographer or any sort of support personnel.

6. Cops and Federal agents are trained just like the military...you never do anything alone. The biggest advantage that law enforcement has over criminals is teamwork. It is absolutely unthinkable for a cop or an agent to initiate a pursuit, enter a building, or do just about anything without notifying other what he/she is doing. Cops in particular call in their status and THEN move.

7. During a pursuit, the occupant of a car is CLEARLY holding a heavy-caliber revolver pointed at the driver, but the actual weapon, as seen both before and after the pursuit, is actually a semiautomatic.

I could go on and on, but this is just a dumb and insulting movie. The actors contribute to the whole mess by mugging their way through a bunch of police and criminal stereotypes.

Not worth the two hours it take to watch.
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Poor taste mars otherwise dumb-fun thriller...
moonspinner5531 January 2008
Angelina Jolie as a special agent with the F.B.I. investigating serial murderer case in Eastern Canada, involving a killer who takes on the identities of each of his victims, usually drifters he befriends in bus stations and train stops. Adaptation of Michael Pye's novel is full of ridiculous moments (including the pre-credits opening, which involves three broke-down vehicles and two dead bodies, all scored to songs by U2 and the Clash!). Jolie gets paired with two local police detectives who are evidently playing a game of 'good cop-bad cop'--one is congenial and the other is belligerent and rude, at one point even slapping Angie across the face. Kiefer Sutherland and Gena Rowlands have facetious roles, but Ethan Hawke (as a witness to one of the killings) is gaunt and wild-eyed, giving one of the twitchiest performances in memory. Once he locks lips with Jolie, one can't help but to roll his eyes over this overbaked, derivative scenario, which director D.J. Caruso keeps plugging with inexplicable close-ups of everything (he's prop crazy). The film has a few jolts, and Jolie is pretty if awfully stoic (at one point, when a body falls out of an opening, she barely reacts). Still, the predictably suspicious finale has some over-the-top violence which doesn't quite play--even if Caruso is winking, his lack of taste coats the final product with a sour residue. ** from ****
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A film for perverts
kentfx-124 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
There's no point in "spoiling" this film, as the plot, such as it is, has one weak surprise and that's pretty much it. As a police procedural it's a sad failure -- years of seriously well-devised thrillers have made that form a real tough nut to crack, and essentially impossible to fake. Suffice to say that Anjoline Jolie is less than convincing as a tough homicide detective. But the larger issue is, since when is almost two hours of closeups of a succession of rotting corpses, along with loving views of the anguish of people being murdered, a night of entertainment at the movies? Didn't Ethan Hawke used to be a serious actor? Didn't he play Hamlet, for God's sake? Boy, when these people's careers go down the toilet, they really hit the sludge.
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A bit predictable but still enjoyable to watch
The Couchpotatoes24 April 2016
Another movie about a serial killer. Nothing wrong with that to me because i like that kind of stuff. But it's just not as good as some classics in the genre. You almost immediately figure out who the killer is without them telling you and that's a bit of a bummer. There are a couple of twists after they try to mislead you but everyone that watches a lot of serial killer movies will see it coming. Nevertheless Taking Lives is still enjoyable to watch. Angelina Jolie is a beautiful woman and a good actress as well, so what's more to ask. Ethan Hawke plays his role like we are used to. The rest of the cast are also good, nothing to complain about. Taking Lives is certainly a good enough movie to have a nice evening in front of the big screen. Not the best in his genre but it doesn't really matter, it's still good enough to me.
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Gritty, Creepy and Dark murder-mystery thriller. A guaranteed good time !
Panterken5 December 2007
I feel obliged to write this comment after recently watching the film again and finding out the IMDb score.

'Taking Lives' is a crime-thriller reminiscent of The Bone Collector, Along Came A Spider, From Hell, and all those other late '90's murder-mystery thrillers. It's not a one of a kind film, but I think that if you can get past the unoriginality element of this film, you'll find this thoroughly enjoyable.

What makes this film so good that it surpasses most in it's specific genre (murder-mystery thriller) is the very creepy intense atmosphere. I think Glass' score fits very well in every scene and the whole film overall is very gritty, dark and creepy due to the acting and cinematography. You can definitely tell this movie was based on a novel, so I think the adaptation to screen went pretty well. I haven't read the book but I can tell that a lot of dialog was used straight out of the book and some scenes are just too novel-y to be written by screenplay writers. Films based on novels are often excellent and this one proves that again.

It's not award-worthy in any way, but I had one hell of a good time watching it. I'm sure you will to. After all, isn't that all we expect from these kinds of thrillers...entertainment!
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A good enough thriller
jamiecostelo5816 December 2006
Taking Lives centres around FBI agent Illeana Scott tracking down the killer who assumes his/hers victims identities. I was pleasantly surprised by Angelina Jole's portrayal as Scott; she acts out her role with great style.

I rather enjoyed this movie. It contains many twists and turns made to keep you guessing, and also a rather solid ending. These cat-and-mouse thrillers always seem to work, and Taking Lives should not disappoint in that respect.

The supporting cast act out their roles coherently too although Ethan Hawke was perhaps a little too exaggerating in his part. But special praise should go to Olivier Martinez; a particularly strong and believable performance from the Frenchman.

Taking Lives is a nail-biting thriller with an interesting storyline that should keep most film-goers entertained. However, the film does suffer from having perhaps a few too many over-the-top and exaggerated scenes that were really unnecessary; this is what lets it down to a degree. 6/10
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