FBI Agent Angelina Jolie hunts a psycho killer in this suspense-free thriller
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland
Plot Summary: FBI agent Illeana Scott (Jolie) is called in by Montreal police to help with a murder. Soon she finds herself on the trail of a psychopathic killer with a special gift for adopting other people's identities.
A Silence of the Lambs cash-in 13 years after the fact, Taking Lives fails the first test that any whodunit thriller must pass: It totally lacks suspense.
From the opening sequence onward, you're left in little doubt who the killer is, and the introduction of a couple of red herrings midway through the film comes too late to distract the audience's attention from the glaringly obvious.
Without this element of unpredictability, the film flounders.
Angelina Jolie is undeniably gorgeous but beauty alone isn't enough to carry a film. We've seen or read about this sort of plucky female investigator and her ability to get inside the heads of psychopaths a dozen times before and, apart from a magnificent pair of, er, lips, Jolie brings little new to the role.
Ethan Hawke, an actor who always seems to be lumbered with the roles that Matt Damon isn't available for, does well with an edgy role but is strait-jacketed by the plot's failings while Kiefer Sutherland, billed third, gets limited screen time.
Apart from a racy sex scene involving Jolie towards the end of the movie, the most interesting aspect of the film is its setting.
The French-Canadian accents and picturesque streets of Montreal and Quebec City make a pleasant change from more familiar North American settings. (Oddly, the Michael Pye novel that Taking Lives is based on takes place mostly in Europe, and never sets foot in Canada.)
Those lips and that location aren't enough, however, to make Taking Lives work as a film.
The result is a slow, predictable trawl through various psycho-thriller clichés that, by its end, feels like it's taken far more than 103 minutes of your life.
PTV Rating: 2 out of 5
Czech Premiere: April 22nd, 2004
Czech Title: Zloděj životů ("Thief of Lives")
Czech Classification: 12
Runtime: 1 hour, 43 minutes
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