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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Taking Lives

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Judy Thorburn

Taking Lives

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

“TAKING LIVES” HINDERED BY GRAVE PLOTHOLES

If movies like Se7en or Silence of the Lambs are your cup of tea, you might want to check out the newest suspense thriller, Taking Lives starring Angelina Jolie.  Just don’t expect it to be as frightening or as solid a script as those psychological thrillers. But, the one thing they share in common is a story that delves into the investigation of a serial killer.  This one’s about a wacko on the loose in Canada.

Starting with his first roadside killing in 1983, he has been picking his victims, bashing in their face, hacking off their hands and moving on, but not before taking their lives and assuming their identity. It’s a pattern he repeats after each shell is outgrown. Switch to present day, more than 20 years later, more bodies are found, and the case is still unsolved.  So what does the French Canadian police do? They call in the best FBI profiler from America they can get to help in the investigation.  That’s where Angelina Jolie, as Illeana Scott comes in to assist Captain Le Claire (Tcheky Kareyo, Bad Boys), Detectives Paquette (Olivier Martinez, S.W.A.T.) and Duval (Jean-Hugues Anglade). She’s a top-notch special agent some of the Montreal police have labeled “some kind of witch” because of her unorthodox methods of picking up clues and solving crimes. Her lying in an empty grave at a construction site where a body is found shows a perfect example of her unconventional tactics, as is sleeping in a bed surrounded by gory crime scene photos.  She also is supposed to have an incredible talent for paying close attention to the littlest of details that others would ignore. Trouble is, there are so many instances where the obvious is overlooked or not even questioned that believability goes by the wayside.

A lead comes after a distraught mother in her sixties, Mrs.Asher (Gena Rowlands) has gone to the police claiming to have seen one of her twin sons, Martin, believed to be long dead.  He, of course, is the killer who switched wallets with his first victim in 1983 thereby starting a life different from his own. When Illeana visits Martin’s mother to pry for information, she sees numerous photos of her son on the fireplace mantle from infancy to teenager.  But, she never asks to take one so that she could have his image digitally enhanced to show what he would look like now.  Even so, a person’s looks don’t change that radically from teenager to thirty something. Shouldn’t Illeana’s keen powers of observation cause her to recognize the killer immediately? Maybe not, since the actors portraying the killer in no way resemble each other.

Keifer Sutherland appears as a probable suspect, especially since it looks like he might be after the star witness, artist, James Costa (Ethan Hawke).  Costa enters the picture as the one man with the ability to break down Illeana’s controlled barrier when no other man could. I certainly understand his attraction to her. But, I saw absolutely nothing about Costa to believe this reserved beauty would let her wall down for him.  Yet, the obligatory sex scene had to happen. Okay, it is integral. But, I would have preferred to see her get it on with the really hot hunk, Olivier Martinez, who steamed up the screen with Diane Lane in Unfaithful. I would have bought into that pairing. Nevertheless, if I see one more film with another woman rammed hard against a wall for intercourse and act like it was the best she ever had, I am going to scream.  Give me a break! This screenplay was definitely written by a man (Jon Bokenkamp)!  Not having read the novel of which Taking Lives is based, I would assume the book is better.

If it sounds like I am totaling dissing this film, let me mention even with the obvious red herrings, misleading direction and huge plot holes, Taking Lives does have some good elements. Angelina Jolie has never looked more gorgeous and does her best with this role. There is some nifty camera work that zooms in on eyes, mouth and nails, the dark atmosphere works, and there are several scenes shot at unusual angles, which add neat effects.  One good jump put of your seat shocker comes unexpectedly and the twist at the end was tension filled. However, that sequence has aspects that stretch credibility.

All in all, Taking Lives is an average thriller, with good performances. If all the bad elements were not such a hindrance to this game of cat and mouse, this movie would be highly recommended.  As it stands, the ride is worthwhile if you choose to leave your mind at home, for it lacks the intelligence to be labeled a “smart” thriller.  Bad elements are distracting and could easily kill a good premise. It almost took the life out of this one.