out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4
Watching the chain of visually visceral shocks that punctuate this
mind-numbing thriller could serve as a basic screenwriting lesson. If you don't
develop sympathetic, interesting or even likable characters that the audience
cares about, they have no one to root for as the plot plays out.
After a prologue that begins in 1983 with the graphic depiction of a
brutal murder, the story is set in contemporary Montreal, where local
detectives handling a homicide investigation call in a top FBI profiler,
Special Agent Illeana Scott (Angelina Jolie). There's a ruthless serial killer
on the loose and they're hoping her intuitive abilities will help them track
him down. Using her own odd methodology, she deduces that he's "life-jacking,"
assuming his victims' lives and identities.
Problem is: neither screenwriter Jon Bokenkamp, who adapted the script
from Michael Pye's novel, nor director D.J. Caruso has given Angelina Jolie a
three-dimensional character. Her cold, emotionless demeanor is never explained,
even when she strips for some steamy action between the sheets with one of her
suspects. As an art dealer who serves as a key witness in the case, Ethan Hawke
is engaging but the intensity of Keifer Sutherland is wasted in an elusive role
that's inexplicable until the conclusion. And Olivier Martinez is
unintelligible as a French policeman. In fact, Philip Glass's music is the only
element that makes the structure and tone of some of the grisly, fault-filled
scenes plausible, along with solid support from experienced thespians Tcheky
Karyo and Gena Rowlands. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Taking Lives"
is a floundering, forgettable 4. If the intent was to develop Jolie's persona
into a kind of Clarice Starling (Hannibal Lecter's FBI nemesis), it fails so
completely that it's ludicrous.
Copyright © 2004 Susan Granger
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