Film & DVD Review: Taking Lives

1 hour 43 Minutes.
Reviewed by Jacqueline

The great opening scene sets the whole movie up to develop and unfold. This start should not merely be glanced at as the movie refers to it several times throughout. We see a goofy young man on a journey, (although he probably doesn’t even know himself where his journey will take him). He befriends another young man who appears to come from a troubled background with the same need to escape from the reality of life. The men drink beer and chit chat. Their bus breaks down and they hire a car, although it soon becomes clear that the driver of the car seems to have fooled his new friend, he is beginning to look ominous. The story breaks out into something quite ugly, but interesting at the same time.

Montreal, Canada present day and a digger finds a body. French-speaking policemen gather round to discuss the unsolved murder. The Director Caruso thought that having predominantly French-speaking policemen would give the movie a “European feel”. Joseph Paquette, (Olivier Martinez) and Surete Du Quebec (Tcheky Karyo), both policemen, recruit the services of Special FBI Agent Illeana Scott, (Angelina Jolie).

The director plays on Illeana’s loneliness. She dines alone, with nothing other than the photos of the crime scenes placed on a seat opposite her. She has also plastered photos on her bedroom ceiling as well as the bathroom walls, so that she could get into the world of the killer. Illeana reported to her colleagues that the murder had been premeditated and that the killer had been stalking his victim for weeks, following a pattern.

James Costa, (Ethan Hawke) unexpectedly turns up as a witness to the murder and persuades Illeana that he is innocent, he helps the police by drawing a sketch of the killer.

Naively Illeana falls for James, as he seems to be a “nice guy”. Is James what he seems or is he fooling everyone with his charming manner? Illeana is attracted to him. James is artistic and seems to be a caring person, but the real truth is that appearances can be deceptive. She ends up feeling used and disappointed. Her thoughts turn to revenge.

This film makes one think about how people who appear ‘normal’ can deceive and manipulate us. Should we be wary and on our guard at all times?

Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke are great in their roles, but Kiefer Sutherland and Olivier Martinez are overshadowed.Perhaps the supporting characters could have been developed more through meatier parts.

This is a great suspense thriller which hooks you to the very end with its twists and turns.


  • Angelina Jolie, (Special FBI Agent Illeana Scott)
  • Ethan Hawke, (James Costa)
  • Kiefer Sutherland, (deadly fugitive & drug dealer)
  • Olivier Martinez, (Joseph Paquette)
  • Jean-Hugues Anglade, (Emil Duval)
  • Tcheky Karyo, (Surete Du Quebec, Director Hugo Lec)
  • Gena Rowlands, (Rebecca Asher)CREW
  • Director: DJ Caruso
  • Written By: Jon Bokenkamp
  • Based on the Novel By: Michael Pye
  • Producers: Mark Canton and Bernie Goldmann
  • Executive Producers: Bruce Berman, Dana Goldberg and David Heyman

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