Taking Lives 2004

Taking Lives

Critics Consensus

A stylish, but predictable thriller where the only thrills are offered by the sensuous Angelina Jolie.

22%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 159

55%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 69,487

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Movie Info

An insidious serial killer is impersonating his victims' identities as he travels across Canada. A recent spate of murders in Montreal has brought FBI Agent Illeana Scott (Angelina Jolie) north to investigate. Scott's unusual methods quickly earn the suspicion of the local police but bring her close to art dealer James Costa (Ethan Hawke), who says he was an eyewitness to the latest murder. Sparks develop between the two as Costa's role becomes crucial in their effort to apprehend the killer.

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Critic Reviews for Taking Lives

All Critics (159) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (35) | Rotten (124)

Audience Reviews for Taking Lives

  • Aug 13, 2015
    Angelina Jolie bringing the heat here as a FBI agent tracking down a clever serial killer. Its a by-the-numbers offering, the director DJ Caruso leading the audience shamelessly so that when the twist arrives its kinda tired as he's been hinting at it for over an hour. In the meantime, its Jolie that keeps your attention, those lips and all obscuring all thought otherwise. Ethan Hawke is okay, but only that.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 18, 2014
    He's just kicking butt and taking lives, so he's pretty much the last boss you want to tick off. Man, this is one seriously crazy Canadian who must be brought to justice, thus, we have to call in a major detective to take seriously... or at least a hot chick. Well, there is some reasonable casting in this film, like Kiefer Sutherland as a... Canadian, and Ethan Hawke as... um, an art dealer. Hawke is an Austinite, so I can get his being pretentious enough to be an art dealer, but it's still trippy not seeing him or Sutherland as law enforcers of some sort, and, of course, seeing Angelina Jolie doing the detective work. D. J. Caruso might just be collecting as many stars as he would like to in this cast in order to lavish in making a more high-profile crime thriller than "The Salton Sea". Well, in most every other department, he must have lazed out, because even though this film is a much, much, much bigger commercial success than "The Salton Sea", it's not as big of a critical hit, although, in all fairness, there probably weren't enough people who saw "The Salton Sea" to provide all that accurate of a consensus. I don't know how accurate the consensus on this film is, because I kind of liked it, although I have my share of reservation, kind of like the film does when it comes to, say, exposition. There's no background to the protagonists, and although gradual exposition, or at least engaging performances, are serviceable in getting you used to the characters, there's a serious shortage on some sense of humanity amidst all of the over focusing on plot progression over nuance. More often than not, the film focuses on action, action, action, not of a combative nature, but of an investigative nature, with new natural slow-downs, which is monotonous enough without all of the fat around the edges of the plotting, backed by atmospheric dry spells which are near-dulling. The film tries livening things up with fluff which ranges from lightheartedness and a hint of humor, to somewhat overwrought action sequences, and which marks inconsistencies in a largely serious tone, while sometimes proving to be cheesy in its being near-witless and trite. Much of the film is trite, or at least simply conventional, following a formulaic path that is filled with formulaic characters and set pieces, until finding itself becoming something that a mystery thriller like this shouldn't be: predictable. The film sometimes has the audacity to all but spell out where it's heading, through contrivances that extend beyond the forced fluff, and are often directed in obvious tonal hints and manufactured happenings that get to be downright improbable, and are recurrent enough to take you out of a lot of a genuine sense of tension. The film is far from as incompetent as they say, being pretty sharp in a lot of ways, but nevertheless flimsy in a number of other ways, with no much developmental depth, or dynamicity, or momentum, and a number of inconsistencies, clichés and contrivances, thus making for a fairly inconsequential thriller that doesn't cut deep enough to be memorable, let alone stand a chance of transcending underwhelmingness. The film even flirts with mediocrity on occasion, but on the whole, it held my attention just fine, with both style and substance. This murder investigation thriller is not much of anything new, and is plenty improbable, and one has to question the shortage of humanity and nuance for the sake of forward momentum that its limited enough by flimsy storytelling, but there is always something intriguing with subject matter like this, some potential for heat in a chase that, no matter how predictable, can be fun to unravel, at least with a cast worth sticking with. Ethan Hawke often stands out in his portrayal of a distinct anxiety and fear in a witness to a horrible crime that may come back to haunt him in more than just a psychological way, and Kiefer Sutherland is pretty solid for the brief time he's present, but most everyone has some charisma in this talented cast, from which a particularly lovely Angelina Jolie also stands out, with an engaging presence that convinces you of the Illeana Scott's competence more than the development and casting choice. Jolie is, in fact, miscast in her being so much of the hot, pseudo-psychic investigator, but her and most everyone else's performance is pretty endearing, bringing some substance to a thriller that mostly thrives on style, even that of a musical nature. Now, there is a lot of conventions and some contrivances to this film's score, but only so much can be done to hold back a gifted classical mind like Philip Glass, who turns in some tasteful and intense pieces which prove to be almost as aesthetically solid as truly stunning highlights in Amir Mokri's bleak, sparingly lit cinematography, which graces the thriller with an effective and immersive visual style that does not mark a peak in style. Highlights in D. J. Caruso's directorial style include simulations of Agent Scott's deeply intense observations for clues which immerse you into the environment, but there's always some sort of flash in Caruso's utilization of creative filming and Anne V. Coates' snappy editing, particularly in the context of some forced, but solid action sequences. Caruso is better at livening things up than Jon Bokenkamp's uneven script, but what can make or break this thriller is the effectiveness of the storytelling, and even though there are pacing issues that hold Caruso's grip back, audacious, if somewhat overly disturbing imagery, and some moments of piercing thoughtfulness to storytelling, lead to genuine tension that is recurrent enough to make the plot reasonably effective. Storytelling in writing and direction is plenty messy, enough so to hold the final product quite a ways back, for all of the strengths, but there is enough entertainment value deriving from style, and engagement value deriving from heights in storytelling and acting, to make the final product fair, if flimsy. Overall, there's not much developmental depth to place humanity in the wake of all of the repetitious focus on eventfulness which still finds time to reach slow spots, forcibly broken up by jarring and trite fluff that is almost as contrived as lapses in probability which make the clichéd narrative even more predictable, thus, there is a lot to challenge one's investment, and is itself challenged by an intriguing story that is carried by solid performances, score work and cinematography, and by often stylish and effective direction, enough so to make D. J. Caruso's "Taking Lives" an adequately effective thriller, in spite of its messiness. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Mar 21, 2013
    [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon13.gif[/img]
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Jan 20, 2013
    I had high hopes for this thriller after the set up. The film really set the audience up for some entertaining viewing but sadly the opening is the only high point. David Caruso is not a good director of thrillers. He has made a name for himself in the genre but to be honest the films he have directed don't require high attention spans. He just doesn't create any real emotion and the film lacks any attention to style. This would of been handled better by a director with a better understanding of story. The cast are pretty poor and give basic one note performances. Ethan hawke is probably the pick of the bunch and gives a better then normal performance. The biggest issue I found with the plot was the obvious hopelessness of the investigation. When you look at all the victims you can clearly see a pattern, how would the investigators miss such an obvious clue. This is profiling in its first stages. Overall the film is poorly put together, the score lacks any substance to create a mood. This is how you don't make a thriller
    Brendan N Super Reviewer

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