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TAKING LIVES

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke and Kiefer Sutherland
Director: D.J. Caruso
Rated: MA15+

In Taking Lives, Illeana (Angelina Jolie) is a specialist in serial killers with the FBI.

She’s brought in to help the Canadian Federal Police deal with a number of related murders. Not everyone is happy for the assistance. Detective Pacquette (Olivier Martinez) is affronted by the appointment.

Illeana gains everyone’s respect soon enough when she notices the killer’s pattern and works out a profile for a suspect.

Costa (Ethan Hawke), a well respected art dealer in town, is targeted by the killer. Illeana convinces him to become the bait for a police trap. Then she falls in love with him, and the story really gets complicated.

I have not read Michael Pye’s novel upon which Jon Bokenkamp wrote his screenplay, but if the story there was filled with so many gaps as the screenplay, I am surprised it was ever a bestseller.

The entire narrative revolves around how the serial killer murders so he can assume the identity of his victims. We are told he takes over their lives, houses and workplaces.

Early in the film we meet the killer’s mother who is convinced she saw her deranged, and thought to be dead, son on a ferry. She was right. So we discover that he hasn’t changed his facial features completely.

How does someone who doesn’t regularly go through a radical make-over get away with assuming other people’s identity for years? How does the killer pull off knowing so much about their personal and professional lives?

Taking Lives unravels very early on and nothing can save this psychological thriller from being, truly, unbelievable. To add insult to injury, most of the plot turns are too convenient, or too contrived.

There are not many of us who want to sit through another film about a serial killer, but Ms Jolie presently has star power and so will draw in a younger audience.

Ethan Hawke is the best thing in the film and he does a credible job with an incredibly bad script.

There are shocks and scares that will distress some viewers and there is a sex scene that appears completely gratuitous, until the final showdown.

Philip Glass’s score, Amir Mokri’s cinematography, and the French Canadian locations limit the overall damage – but only just.

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