“ Genre: Crime & Thriller - Thriller / Theatrical Release: 2004 / Director: D.J. Caruso / Actors: Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke ... / DVD released 27 September, 2004 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, Director's Cut, PAL, Widescreen „
* Prices may differ from that shown
- Story -
This movie is about establishing the identity of a serial killer who has killed many people over the last 20 years, stealing the identity of the person they kill after killing them. An FBI profiler travels to Montreal to help the local authorities after their contacted by someone who claims that they've seen their son, who she'd been told by police had been killed in an accident many years ago and who she claims is extremely dangerous. Could this be the killer? can they catch the killer before he becomes untraceable? you'll have to watch the movie to find out.
- Thoughts & Opinions -
This movie features quite a bit of violence and is a fair bit gruesome in parts, with decomposed bodies being shown and some scenes involving cameras panning through the crime scenes, showing eery dilapidated rooms that hide sinister secrets, so its quite creepy as well, think along the lines of movies such as Fallen with Denzel Washington, only without the supernatural element. The movie starts off with the killer as a teenager having ran away from home, hitching a lift with another boy his age who of course is unaware of his sinister intents at first, though he starts to open up about his personal life and its not long before the first gruesome set of special effects occur and along with it, a kill.
The story, to me, while intriguing was ultimately a bit disappointing, in that by the time everything is clear, I felt that it wasn't as original as I'd hoped. Having thought about it, I've seen similar movies with similar plots that didn't even get a theatrical/cinema release but as this movie stars some a and b list names (Angeline Jolie and Ethan Hawke for example) it was an exception. There are some good special effects and its pretty effective at, well, creeping you out in parts but something about it put me off - perhaps its that I'm becoming less keen on Jolie the more I see her in movies, there's just something so fake (um her face? ahem I didn't say that :)) about her, her characters tend to be very arrogant its almost as if her as an actress just breezes through her roles, which I really don't like... plus during the scenes that built up towards the last plot twist, by the time it all becomes clear, your left thinking is that it? at least I was anyway. I found it a little hard to believe that this serial killer who had been 'on the prowl' committing many prolific murders over many years, would be conned by what happened - I shant say any more to give the plot away but suffice to say that by the time the movie ended, I wasn't convinced it was a particularly good movie, from the plot point of view. There was one character which I felt was more memorable, that being Mrs. Asher, the mother who contacts the Canadian authorities adamant that she'd just made eye contact with her previously-thought-to-be-dead-son - her explanation of what happened, why she was sure it was him, was a bit chilling. It was a bit sad to see how she was treated at one point by the authorities, even if she was wrong about her hunch... One thing that was a bit of a let down I suppose was the fact that I thought Kiefer Sutherland was one of the main characters, given that his name is one of the three or four listed on the DVD cover but he only has probably under five minutes worth of time on screen, which was a shame as I've enjoyed some of the movies he's appeared in, which is why I thought this may be worth a watch.
I felt that this movie is ok in terms of there being some decent car chases and action scenes and it is rather chilling in parts but personally, it didn't reall 'grab me' like I'd hoped it might. Perhaps I'm a bit biased as I've learnt im really not much keen on Mrs./Ms(?) Jolie but I think ultimately the story was perhaps a bit under par and thats what really let it down - don't get me wrong, its watchable, its just not a movie I feel I'm going to want to watch again, its not likely to stay in my mind for long.
- Would I Recommend It? -
Surprisingly, no I wouldn't. Maybe I'm being a little harsh, I don't know but personally, I thought this was an 'ok' movie that relied on the visuals and the cast to 'make it', with a story that started out with a fair bit of potential but ultimately, I felt that it was a bit of a let down. There must be countless movies about the authorities/specialists chasing after serial killers, this one I don't feel is one of the best, personally.
Thanks for reading my review, I hope you found it useful and thanks for all rates and comments. This review was originally posted on Ciao UK.
I was looking forward to watching this after looking at the synopsis because I'm a big horror/thriller fan, and I find that such films with Jolie in are pretty good, despite what others may think of her. I'm definitely glad I watched it because it didn't disappoint; plenty of twists and dark corners to lose yourself for 105 minutes.
This film is about, well, what it says in the title: A serial killer who takes on the identities of those he hunts down and kills. We're introduced by way of trip back in time to the 80s, seeing a younger, and disturbed, boy who kills another. From there, it's straight into a detective cat and mouse game as the French Canadian police call in a specialist FBI profiler, Illeana (played by Angelina Jolie) to help on their case. After a body is found with an eye-witness who can draw a detailed sketch of the killer, everyone is on the track of this man they believe to be Martin Asher; Asher's mother even testifies to the evil her son is capable of, despite not having seen him for many years.
The eye-witness, James Costa (played by Ethan Hawke), begins to fear for his life as the mysterious Asher (played by Kiefer Sutherland) tracks him down, only to narrowly escape the police. From fear and a strange sense of morbidity, Costa and Illeana are drawn to each other and I found myself getting absorbed into the situation, empathising and understanding the characters because they were well-portrayed and believable.
The rest of the film takes us through the steps of hunting down the killer, so I wont give it away! I'll just say that this film was able to keep a good pace, it introduced enough characters to make it interesting without ruining the plot or becoming over-complicated, and there are enough twists to keep you 'on your toes'. Admittedly, it is a bit predictable but if you go with the flow then you can overlook that.
This is directed by Caruso, who has worked on other top films such as Eagle Eye and Disturbia, and his expertise shows in Taking Lives, which is crafted and directed with quality and care. The cast involves a line up of some recognisable names, all of whom play their roles believably and really help bring the film to life.
I thought the general feel to the film was atmospheric enough to bring all aspects together; characters, murder, mystery, surprises, music, psychology, etc. It flowed well and was easy to watch, so for those reasons I would recommend it. I think the only downsides were the small role of Sutherland possibly, and the plot which most would probably be able to predict early on. That said, predictability didn't really matter to me because I found the film was able to keep me watching and believing up until the end without losing interest.
I'll agree that it may not be the most spontaneous, thrilling, unique film you'll watch. But for fans of thrillers, and horrors as it has it's moments of gore, and those of Hawke and Jolie, I would recommend giving this a watch.
Director's Cut RRP £13.99 but selling on Amazon for £4.08
2004, rated certificate 15, 105 minutes
'Taking Lives' is the kind of film that, for me, epitomises the label 'average' In this case it's a real shame since the opening sequence of the film promises so much more, as does the dramatically illustrated DVD case and all-star cast.
But after the first few exciting scenes, the action begins to fall a little flat, never really managing to revive the initial sense of fear and intrigue. Instead it nestles comfortably into the formulaic rut of so many other serial-killer movies, except with shoddier police work.
The film starts proper with FBI profiler Illeana (Angelina Jolie) arriving to help solve a gruesome murder in French Canada, much to the delight of one male detective, and the predictable consternation of another. Jolie is probably the first real issue I have with the film - she's a reasonable actress but I can never believe in her characters. I think it's because she's just too ridiculously good-looking to be anything other than a Hollywood star. I have the same problem with Catherine Zeta Jones, and normally avoid the films of these two actresses. Additionally, Jolie simply looks too young for the role.
Illeana's first job is to interview the murder witness, an art dealer called Costa (Ethan Hawke, the only actor in the film that seems interested in his role), who has an air of suspicion around him for a while, although it is soon dismissed by the cops (not so easily by the viewer, and it's hard to say whether this is intentional).
As the investigation progresses and it becomes clear that the killer's main motive for murder is wholesale identity theft of the victim, the team learn more about the suspect through talks with his mother, and rather superficial profiling observations by Illeana. Costs is kept in the story by the emerging threat posed to him by he killer, allowing Illeana to develop feelings for him as you know she will.
I find much of the rest of the film a little hazy. It seems composed of dreary scenes centred on the cops talking/Illeana and Costa talking and the tiresome antagonism between Illeana and Paquette (Olivier Martinez), punctuated by bursts of action where an attempt is made to catch the killer. It's quite frustrating to watch the team let him slip through their fingers on several occasions, almost as if nobody can quite be bothered. Illeana and Costa finally give into their passion in a rather plastic sex-scene, before the tempo of the action actually rises a notch towards the end and even leads to an-almost surprising finale.
Other than the ending, nothing else in the film caught me by surprise or made me care about the characters.
Although I have been quite negative about the film, I have given it 3 stars since, all things considered, it is reasonably entertaining if you don't expect too much. The actors are nice to look at - particularly Martinez - which always earns brownie points in my book, the setting is atmospheric and there is some interest in wondering how things might turn out between Illeana and Costa.
The murders themselves are on the boring side, if quite gory, but the way in which the serial killer chooses his victims is of greater interest and originality.
Perhaps the real problem I have with this film is the fact that I'm used to watching great TV series such as 'The Mentalist', 'Bones' and 'Criminal Minds' where you get a good story, drama and humour all woven expertly together in the space of 40 minutes. I felt that 'Taking Lives' offered much less but in double the time.
Just as an aside......I think the DVD cover is testament to the success of Keifer Sutherland - he is pictured much more heavily than Ethan Hawke despite having a much smaller role. Personally I would have liked to see more of him, especially as then I could have pretended I was watching '24'.
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
Taking Lives is another entry into the rather shady "erotic thriller" genre of films: they are characterised by a sleazy plot often involving the dregs of society, and often focus on fetishisation of murder as well as plenty of sex. Taking Lives has some tones of that, although it is alot more stylishly put together, and benefits a lot from the presence of the gorgeous Angelina Jolie, who makes the film more watchable than it would be, particularly in her topless scenes in the latter part of the film.
Nevertheless, the film opens with a brutal murder, with Martin Asher (Paul Dano) throwing his friend in front of a truck, which kills his friend and the truck driver. We cut to twenty years later, and FBI profiler, Illeana Scott (Jolie) is leading the effort to catch Asher, a serial killer who takes the lives of people he comes into contact with by amassing all of their personal information and then killing them off. One day, a man, James Costa (Hawke), witnesses one of Asher's murders being committed, and so becomes the center of attention as they try and use him to catch the killer. However, everything is more complicated than you would expect, and as a result we get a thriller with a winding plot that actually manages a pretty effective plot twist in its concluding part, although follows up sadly with a most ridiculous climax.
Although it may not be always compelling, Taking Lives is sometimes an intruiging cat-and-mouse thriller that has a conventional and disappointing payoff, but is still well worth a watch for its occasionally disturbing scenes and a nifty plot twist.
It's strange how movies seem to vanish from sight just before they are released in the cinema. I'd heard a lot about Taking Lives, with Jolie and Hawke apparently having off screen liaisons, well according to the Sun. When it came to the film actually being released I didn't notice it at the cinema and it wasn't until the DVD release that I even remembered reading about it. So the other night I decided, as there was nothing on Tele as usual, to stick it in the DVD player and see if it was any good.
The film begins in the 80's with two guys trying to get Seattle when the bus breaks down. Rather than wait around they agree to split the cost of a rental car. After a while the car gets a puncture and whilst trying to fix it, one of the guys pushes the other in-front of an oncoming van. He steals his wallet and makes sure the guy is dead before wandering off across the hills.
We're then brought up to the present day and a body has been discovered on a building site. The police then bring in experienced FBI profiler Illeana Scott (Angelina Jolie) to help them solve these crimes. It seems the killer has been stealing the identity of each of his victims. Shortly after Illeana joins the team they get a break through. The killer was interrupted during his last attack by an artist, James Costa (Ethan Hawke). Now they have to keep their star witness alive as the killer seems to know who he is.
It slips nicely into the crime genre and in the beginning showed signs of being quite similar to another Jolie film, The Bone Collector. The early promise slips away and the film inevitably becomes routine and quite predictable. There are a few twists that you don't really expect but by the same respect they don't exactly shock you. It's not a terrible film by any stretch of the imagination; it's just not that great either, distinctly average would probably be the best description.
The film works well in places and shows glimpses that director D.J. Caruso has a few good ideas up his sleeve. He hasn't done much of note and that seems to show a bit in certain areas of the film, where it feels a little lack lustre. The plot is an adaptation of a Michael Pye novel and shows slight signs of having a decent story. It just seems to fall down in the movie translation and after a while begins to feel like a typical Hollywood crime movie.
The locations work quite well and in particular the art gallery and the hospital; really play a big art in the films development. It was during scenes at both locations that I picked up on little hints as to how the story would play out. There aren't too many special effects to speak of but the dead body parts look quite realistic and the death scenes that we see are very well done.
I really felt the director got a bit of a mixed reaction from the main stars. In places Hawke impressed and seemed to be ideal for the role; however in places the character didn't really seem to suit him. There was certainly a spark between him and Jolie's character, no doubt down to the off screen activities. As for Jolie her character was distinctly poor when compared with her role in The Bone Collector. The development of her character was quite well done but the character its self lacked depth so beyond getting to know odd details I didn't really feel convinced by her.
The supporting cast fit into quite safe, stereotypical roles. The best example of this being Oliver Martinez. He played a young French cop who at times seemed to show glimpses of a good character. Rather than develop the positives they took it down the French rebellious cop route, which added nothing to the film. The other supporting roles pretty much played along similar lines, there was the possibility there, and it just wasn't taken up.
It's not necessarily a bad film and if you like your crime thrillers then it's a pretty decent film that most people could enjoy. There aren't too many overly gory bits and in fact what there is, you can miss by blinking. Apart from that first death there are only a couple more deaths but none that really stick in your mind afterwards. If you want a Serial Killer movie that explores motives and reasons, this isn't it. If however you want to be entertained for a short time by an average movie, then I recommend you head down to Blockbusters and rent this.
Straight off the bat what I love about this film is its sheer suspense. It's a serial-killer flick designed to entice you into the story as soon as you press that play button. This is evident from the very first scene, which you eventually realise acts as a super prologue to what is to come. Starring Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke, well supported by Olivier Martinez and Keifer Sutherland, the film follows the race to solve the mystery of the killer who at first appears to be randomly killing his/her victims. It is later revealed that this is not necessarily the case - there is a pattern, not to be revealed in this review, as its worth finding for yourself. This being one of the films key strengths - the ability to make you want to guess what's going on. If you're right, as I was in instances, you're rewarded by the storyline as it swiftly moves onto the next twist or turn. If you're wrong, as I also was in instances, you are made to want to guess again...and again.
The films other key strength is its classic ability to simply make you jump. In one scene this is done so well that even though for some reason its obvious what is going to happen, I absolutely defy any viewer not to find at least a whisp of thin air between posterior and seat. This feat is repeated, right through to the end, where I have to say I simply didn't expect the twist presented. Some would undoubtedly get it, but as I mention - if you do - I don't envisage that this would spoil your enjoyment.
With a tip of the hat to some classic 'Seven' cinematography and suspense to boot - Taking Lives is an all round classic thriller in my book - worth a watch again in a few months without a doubt! Enjoy.
Taking Lives is the serial killer thriller with an all star cast namely Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland & Oliver Martinez. Taking Lives was released on 16th March 2004 & was a flop at the box office. It had a budget of $45 million & grossed $65 million at the box office so was quite disappointing however when it was released on DVD it spent 3 straight weeks at the top of the charts in America. It's directed by D. J. Caruso who also directed Shia LaBeouf in the films Disturbia & Eagle Eye.
I bought this DVD from play.com about 6 months ago & it cost me £5. It has some great special features on it including;
Crime Lab: A Documentary
Promotional Trailer for 'Troy'
Bodies Of Evidence
Puzzle Within A Puzzle
This is the story about a serial killer who assumes his victims identities. It's a bit far-fetched but is still chilling enough to keep you enthralled. At first you see the killer brutally kill someone & steal his identity so you have no idea what he looks like now.
Then pops up Ethan Hawke, he witnessed the murder & is explaining to police what happened. He is in a state but offers to do a sketch of the killer as he is an artist. This is where Angelina Jolie comes in, she plays Illeana Scott, a criminal profile called in by the French/ Canadian police to help track down this monster.
As time goes on Costa (Ethan Hawke) realises he is being stalked by someone believed to be the killer (Kiefer Sutherland) come back to finish him off in order to stop him helping police. Costa & Illeana begin to get close, too close & she has to think carefully about how she can & can't trust & ultimately catch this brutal serial killer.
This is a really good thriller, the acting is good, the story is good & the twists throughout the film are very unexpected, especially the ending. Some people will complain that it's implausible but it's only a film it doesn't have to follow the laws of physics word for word! This is probably the best serial killer thriller I've seen in a long time & would happily watch this over & over again as even though you know the twists you will still enjoy watching everything unravel which I can't say is true for a lot of films I watch, normally I'll watch them once & never again this is especially true for these types of films as once you've seen the ending you've seen it.
I'd without recommend this film to any thriller fan as it will keep you hooked from start to finish. I've seen a lot of serial killer movies & they tend to be very long & slow starting however this is the opposite, it only runs for 105 minutes & it gets started almost automatically.
This is a very above average thriller which is helped tremendously by the all-star cast. I will happily watch this film again & again & for £5 you can't really go wrong even if it's not your cup of tea!
I've watched this film a couple of times now and think it's well worth paying the money for to own permenantly. It's £4.98 on Amazon at the minute and at that price it's worth snapping up if you're a thriller fan.
If you've ever seen the well know film Painting By Numbers starring Sandra Bullock then that's a really good starting point to understanding what Taking Lives is all about. This time the Sandra character is played by the sultry Angelina Jolie. She's every bit as sassy and understated as Sandra was in Painting By Numbers only Angelina's character gets a bit too over confident in her abilities and is quickly bought down to earth with a thud.
Taking Lives sees a serial killer running rings around the entire FBI, not just Angelina's character. What I especially like about this film is how I just didn't see the twist in the tail coming, in fact I wasn't even close.
This is a fast paced thriller that keeps on moving from the very opening scenes right up until it begins to slow down and wind up for the fifteen minute ending. Everything that happens in between is interesting, clever and really well actor by everyone involved.
For £5 this is a DVD well worth owning by thriller fans. Even though the plot is really original and you don't see it coming, because so much happens in the film you forget enough about it in six months to make it worth watching over again later on.
Watching this film for the second time (I fell asleep the first time!) last night I was really impressed with the way the whole thing panned out and enjoyed every minute of it.
Illeana Scott is an FBI profiler, who is called in to help an old friend out on a case where a serial killer is assuming the identities of his victims.
Nothing can prepare her for the emotions it will bring out in her, nor the paths all their lives will take as a result of the chase.
I really enjoyed Angelina Jolie's role in this. She plays the FBI profiler and she comes across as a cop really well. She is serious and although a little freaky in the ways she tries to get inside the perpertrators head (laying in dug up graves etc) she comes across as believable and I had no trouble settling i with her character.
Ethan Hawke plays James Costa, the guy who witnessed the killing of one of the victims and his subsequent involvment in trying to catch the killer and becoming bait himself was excellent. He has a funny look about him and he is an odd choice for the "lead male role" in my opinion, but again he was believable and put in a good performance.
The killing scenes are quite gruesome and once or twice I jumped out my seat, so this is no relaxing love story. There are blood and guts and some really gross scenes near to the end with a good twist I didn't see coming. In fact the opening five minutes will make you jump a mile and shout "agh", as someone ends up as mince meat on the road.
Overall, this was a really entertaining film but I don't think you could watch it again, unless you left a few years in between viewings. My husband watched it all the way through about 4 years ago and had forgotton the outcome so it was good for him after this period of time.
You may have heard of a modern-day crime called identity theft. Its a fairly new phenomenon, where criminals fraudulently use your details to elicit unauthorised sums of money. In some cases, this tends to be a fairly isolated incident, but it is not uncommon for identity theft to be protracted and damaging. In most cases, the perpetrator will move on before his/her identity is discovered. The motivation is only money, and once that becomes too risky, the identity thief simply moves on.
Taking Lives takes a rather more sinister step into the world of identity theft. In this movie, the motivation is much more than just cash. In Taking Lives, the victim does not only lose his identity he very quickly loses his life also.
A serial killer is on the loose. The method of murder remains largely the same with each victim, whereby the face is beaten to a pulp. The police are making little progress and an FBI profiler named Illeana is asked to go to French Canada to help the authorities track down the killer before the death toll rises once more. But finding the killer is no easy matter. The only clue rests with a young artist named Costa, who witnesses one of the killings outside his health club. But who is tracking who? A mysterious man is already watching Costa from the shadows ..
Clearly inspired by countless other serial killer movies, Taking Lives really is nothing terribly new. Playing to a tried and tested formula, the ingredients are all there. Firstly, we have a beautiful, yet vulnerable young FBI agent, upon whose perception the police are relying to solve the case. A dark, broody policeman follows next, opposed to the FBI presence and determined to make things as unpleasant for her as possible. A civilian witness to whom the FBI agent finds herself unswervingly attracted adds some romantic interest to things and finally a nut case with a hidden identity wanders round and stalks the lot of them. You could never really go into this movie expecting great things.
And if you did, youd be disappointed, because there really is nothing great here. There is good, but there is also bad and a bit of downright awful too.
The film opens well very well, in fact. The first ten minutes are tense, intriguing and really quite shocking. Did anyone else see that one coming? Sadly, this is probably the best section of the movie, and the shocks and thrills are generally few and far between, hereafter. Angelina Jolie (Illeana) is generally a rather over-rated actress in my opinion, and in Taking Lives she plays the game very safely. As the film progresses, you get rather bored of her attempts to pout enigmatically, and any attempt to be emotional is relegated strictly to the amateur school of acting. Theres a horrifically unsexy sex scene, which seems to exist only for the sake of its own existence and it is only really in the last two minutes of the film that I swayed towards slightly liking the character.
The other characters dont fare much better either. The young French Canadian policeman Paquette (Olivier Martinez) is lively, passionate (and sexy) but his presence in the film seems rather contrived. Just as handsome English men normally turn out to be the bad guy, handsome young French men will turn out to be rebellious, misogynistic hard men and Paquette is no exception. As soon as Costa (Ethan Hawke) arrives on the scene, you just know that Jolie is going to fall for his charms and it then becomes a case of waiting for the inevitable to happen.
The story is a strange mixture of serial killing by numbers with just enough twists thrown in to keep things interesting. The pace doesnt work a jolt of action, followed by a lull and then a burst of renewed action before the pace slows again. Any attempt to build suspense or intrigue in the film fails clumsily and the detective work is actually very hard to find as well. The whole concept of profilers always sits very awkwardly with me, as writers very often seem to rely on the perception of such characters to save the day, with plausibility disappearing out of the window. The strange thing about Taking Lives is that if I sit and think back now as to how the police solve the case, Im not entirely sure how it was done. The FBI profiler strikes again, I think.
I did say that there were good things about this film, however and that remains the case. The French Canadian setting works extremely well its not only Jolie that provides the eye candy. The sumptuous, historic setting adds an extra quality to the film that would surely have been missing had the film been set in New York or Los Angeles. The opening scene is extremely effective and strangely enough, I also found the climax rather satisfying in an unexpected way. It must have been the lull of the rest of the film, but I hadnt really seen this coming, contrary to the many other reviewers who have expressed an opinion in the press.
Nonetheless, the very disappointing thing for me in this film was the rather shallow exploration of the serial killer. The whole idea of the killer taking on the victims identity is not really examined properly, and the audience is left to assume and gloss over the many plot holes that exist. The film is constructed in a deliberately confusing way, using red herrings and dead end plot threads to keep you guessing, but this finally undermines your ability to accept things as they are presented. I think it is a fair reflection of the film that by the time it had finished, I didnt really care about any of the characters or what happened to them. If serial killer films really are your thing then the likes of Se7en and The Silence of the Lambs will and should remain classics of the genre, with Taking Lives providing only a very superficial level of entertainment in the mean time. Despite one or two moments of semi-gore, it really isnt nasty enough to call itself a classic.
Not a terrible movie, by any means, but not recommended either.
A successful FBI profiler, Illeana Scott (Jolie), is summoned to help out Canadian law enforcement in Montreal, to hunt down a serial killer who assumes the lives and identities (hence the title) of the people he kills as he travels across North America, which forces Illeana to adjust to working in a strange city with a police team with which she doesn't really fit in.