Movie #29 2021: Taking Lives (2004)

Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie. A murder mystery. Sounds great, right?

Taking Lives is the 2004 effort from director D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, I Am Number Four), and is basically your general serial killer film with a way too qualified cast. Jolie plays FBI profiler Illeana Scott, who is recruited by Montreal police to assist them in a string of murders that have so far come up with nothing in their investigations. The only information they have is that the killer assumes the identity of his victims and that his murders are always a few years apart. Agent Scott quickly realises that the murderer gets ‘bored’ of the lives he assumes, which is what leads him to kill again. Then, an eyewitness comes forward with information he feels may be useful.

Listen, there’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before: it’s definitely your average serial killer vs. cop movie. However, it’s entertaining enough, mainly because watching the “good guys” hunt the ‘’bad guys’’ is never not exciting, right?

There is one thing here that is far from average, however. And not in a good way. To put it short: why is the score like that?! It’s way too overdramatic, especially when the action on screen is minimal. It all seems very mismatched and is ultimately really off-putting – if they dialled it down to a 6 instead of having it at a 10 consistently, it would improve the entire movie immediately. It’s a shame, because I’m truly a fan of Philip Glass usually. Whilst the music itself is still great, it just seems sorely misplaced here. Stick to his modern classical albums if you want to hear him in all of his glory.

Obviously this is not Angelina Jolie’s best performance (Girl, Interrupted and Gia both hold that accolade), but did she really deserve a Razzie nomination for this?! She and Ethan Hawke are the two consistently decent things about it when you look at the whole picture, so that seems a little unfair. Well, actually, a lot unfair. The movie may be far from ‘good’, but the performance she gives is the opposite.

Despite the two leads doing a better job than they were given credit for, the writers for some reason felt the need to include a romantic subplot, which forced me to lower the film’s overall rating. Jolie and Hawke have literally no romantic chemistry, and who the fuck comes to a serial killer movie for googly eyes and a gratuitous sex scene? Bleh. Just gross and unnecessary. Something tells me that the studio (Warner Brothers in this instance) forced that upon them, because it just does not fit with the tone of the rest of the movie.

There’s not a single plot twist you won’t see coming, but there are definitely worse cheesy FBI movies you could watch. Plus, I’ve not been to Montreal in 8 years so it was nice to see glimpses of her beautiful streets in this 😍

Taking Lives is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Rating:  (more of a 2.5 really… maybe I should fabricate a half symbol…)

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