The latest serial killer movie to hit theaters, and, more recently, DVD, is Taking Lives, the Angelina Jolie-starring film that pits her against a psycho who kills men and then assumes their identity. The end result is an entertaining, though not completely fulfilling, thriller.
Jolie plays an FBI profiler by the name of Illeana who is as good as she is beautiful. Working in Montreal under the request of French Canadian police, she starts to examine some extremely brutal murders. The investigation is going nowhere until they catch a break in the form of Costa (Ethan Hawke), who witnessed one of the murders. A hesitant relationship soon forms between them as Illeana approaches the truth and discovers that Costa may very well be the next victim. Kiefer Sutherland also has a small role.
Having read scathing reviews, I decided to avoid Taking Lives in theaters, even though I was really looking forward to it. A sucker for serial killer movies, I was pleasantly surprised to find Taking Lives consistently entertaining and thrilling, with good performances and some decent twists. Though it doesn't rank in the top tier of the genre, it should satisfy any fan looking for some good excitement.
Taking Lives does a good job of establishing just how psychotic the killer is in the first minutes of the film, taking a look at his first murder as a teenager. The movie then jumps ahead to present day and starts moving, establishing well-grounded characters and a hunt that slowly accelerates with each passing minute. For those of you that are interested, things get pretty steamy with Jolie.
I liked everything about the movie up until the major twist, when things suddenly become very predictable. The twist itself is a bit surprising, but it happens too soon for us to really be shocked when the killer is revealed. After a certain incident happened, I looked at the clock and, knowing very well that 40 minutes remained, I knew that something else had to happen, and I knew exactly what would happen.
However, the really disappointing part of Taking Lives is the way it ends, which really seemed a bit cheesy and out of place. It isn't quite what you would expect, which is good in a way, but it is so distanced from the rest of the story that it feels a bit anticlimactic.
Overall, Taking Lives is an entertaining thrill ride that should satisfy fans of the genre, but it won't blow them away. It sets no new standard, and, unfortunately, ends in a disappointing fashion. Still, as a popcorn movie, it makes for a good two hours.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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