Taking Lives Reviews
At the center of 'Lives' is an investigation into a serial killer who takes on the identity of each new victim. On paper, this storyline sounds somewhat interesting, although overdone. While the setting of Montreal is a nice change of pace compared to overdone locations like New York and Chicago, it does little to solve the problems with the film. For one, it tries to be something it's not, including a series of cheap jump scare moments that make it feel more horror than suspense thriller. The dialogue is also pretty cringe-worthy, and it doesn't help that normally good actors, including Ethan Hawke and Kiefer Sutherland, portray characters who are written very poorly.
Perhaps the worst part of 'Lives' is the predictable yet still awful ending. Not that one would expect a solid ending given the quality of the rest of the film. But still, it's a letdown considering Jolie does everything she can to salvage things.
'Taking Lives' was never supposed to be a film that left a lasting impact, and it certainly will become long forgotten in the rest of Angelina Jolie's film library.
Not an Angelina fan at all, but she's okay here, as is Ethan Hawke.
For a free Netflix watch, no real complaints, but glad I didn't spend money buying or renting it.
Saw this on 18/3/16
Sure it has some senseless plot points that might strike you when its all done and over with, but D.J. Caruso has directed the movie effectively with style, pace and flair. The cinematography is also good. The story takes some unconventional story arcs that did surprise me although the identity of the killer is predictable. Jolie is great and Ethan Hawke is also good as Costa.
I might add that it's been a while since I have seen this, hence my lack of wordiness. Sorry :(
I've always liked these type of stories in a movie, and of course the thriller based suspense murder films have always got my attention, this is one that I can say I thoroughly enjoyed for what it was.
A film like "Taking Lives" is the kind that Jolie does best: a thriller without much of a brain but seems to be better just because Jolie is there. In every heroine role she's ever had, she's appeared strong and courageous, gutsier than the men around her and more adroit than the doubters who pine against her. In hindsight, "Taking Lives" is the type of film most likely to be played during a "Lifetime" serial killer movie marathon special event - but like the majority of suspense movies that repeat on "Lifetime", there's a sort of compulsively watchable energy about "Taking Lives", not hugely ambitious but not dumb enough to make us feel bad about enjoying ourselves. It's throwaway, but at least we're having fun, right?
In "Taking Lives", Jolie portrays Illeana Scott, an FBI agent brought into Montreal to help apprehend Martin Asher, a murderer who gets his kicks by stealing the identities of his victims after he grotesquely kills them. Scott is a profiler of the highest common denominator, with an unconventional skill set; her new co-workers have a hard time taking her seriously, an understatement considering she greets them for the first time lying with a smile in an open grave, later on showing that she best understands the people she's investigating by squatting in weird positions in the areas they committed their crime. But she's not faux spunky like an embittered Temperance Brennan. We are immediately taken with her.
The killer's streak is hindered when James Costa (Ethan Hawke) is brought in for questioning. Costa, a local art dealer, happened to be at the right place at the right time and witnessed Asher partaking in one of his heinous crimes. Lucky for the detectives, he as a good eye and great artistic ability: he is able to draw a near perfect, detailed sketch of the murderer. Problems arise, though, when Scott, slipping out of her reserved knowingness, develops feelings for the witness.
"Taking Lives" moves along as a good, maybe even great, serial killer movie until it abruptly reaches a twist ending either predictable or implausible - I'm not sure which adjective is a better descriptor. While you might be guessing who the murderer is way ahead of time, however, you won't have much of an idea how they're going to catch him, and since the climax of the movie is outrageously over-the-top (and one could say satisfying), the preposterousness not only is forgiven - it's also accepted as part of the insane plot, which threatens to fly off the rails but remains engaging against all odds. And anyway, you can't put down "Taking Lives" for being ludicrous while turning around and calling "Dressed to Kill" ludicrous but saying it's OK because it's stylish. No. No.
The film has since become a forgotten fossil of the 2000s, but don't pass it off as an average blockbuster that never was. Jolie is as entrancing as ever, Hawke a plausible normal-guy-caught-in-a-bad-situation, Rowlands a shifty-eyed marvel as Asher's paranoid mother. "Taking Lives" is perhaps more fattening than I would like to admit, but I don't mind dumbfounding thriller fun, as long as I'm kept on my toes and the atmosphere's decent. Here, you've got everything. What more could you want?