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Taking Lives (2004)

Taking Lives: “Unrated” Director’s Cut Version

He would kill to be you

Directed by:

D.J. Caruso

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 109 minutes

US Certificate: Unrated UK Certificate: 15


Somewhere in Montreal, a serial killer is somewhat cheekily nicking his victims’ identities after bumping them off. That’s the simple premise behind ‘Taking Lives’, a dark thriller that promises much but delivers little.

It stars clothes-hating hottie Angelina Jolie as crack (arf!) FBI profiler Ileana Scott who, much to the chagrin of the grumpy French-Canadian investigators already on the case, is drafted in to assist with the investigation. She reckons she’s got things figured out when, with the help of key witness Costa (Ethan Hawke), she narrows the suspects down to the background-lurking figure of Hart (Kiefer Sutherland, saying so little in the film that you half-suspect the producers didn’t fancy having to pay him very much).

Make no bones about it, this is a movie aching to be the new ‘Se7en’. It’s dark, grimy, has similar subject matter, and seems to grow self-consciously more grisly as it moves on. Hell, even the opening titles are reminiscent of David Fincher’s superior thriller

Unfortunately, it just makes far too many errors to be thought of in such company. Jolie’s character starts off as a tough, troubled and intelligent investigator who has her own methods and is street-smart enough to handle the men who resent her – but, as the film progresses, she actually appears to grow in stupidity, to the point where I actually found myself wondering whether one of the parts left out of this ‘Unrated Director’s Cut’ (it says “unrated”, but it’s actually a 15) involves her having a full frontal lobotomy. Much of the plot just doesn’t make any credible sense, such as the point where our killer has clearly gotten away with it, yet decides to carry out a further murder in a building chock-full of FBI and police who all recognise him. And then there’s the obligatory twists, the first of which is among the most predictable I’ve ever seen (and I dare say a few of you will be able to guess what it is simply by reading this review).

The film’s been slated in many quarters, perhaps a little unfairly in some cases. It’s far from the worst thriller I’ve ever seen, but it’s certainly no better than mediocre. The most frustrating thing about it for me is that the idea behind it is actually quite a good one: the killer’s a human “hermit crab”, moving from one body to the next and out-foxing the police each time. I only wish those involved could have put a little more thought – and perhaps injected a little more talent – into making it work.

It's Got: An extra-large helping of Jolie’s trademark nudity…not that I’m complaining.

It Needs: To have made Kiefer Sutherland work for his money.

DVD Extras A ‘Crime Lab’ documentary, a trailer and, bizarrely, a “gag reel” showing cast bloopers accompanied by some ridiculously jolly music. DVD Extras Rating: 3/10


Fallen, Se7en


Think of it as a combination of ‘Se7en’ without the shocks and Angelina Jolie without her clothes.

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