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Taking Lives (2004)
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Review Date: March 14, 2004
Director: D.J. Caruso
Writer: Jon Bokencamp
Producers: Mark Canton, Bernie Goldmann
Actors:
Angelina Jolie
Ethan Hawke
Olivier Martinez
Plot:
A FBI profiler is sent up to Canada in order to help them investigate a serial killer. Once there, she utilizes her unorthodox methods and massive cans to deduce certain facts about the madman, while at the same time, antagonizing the local cops on the case and chummying it up with a witness to the latest murder. Who's the baddie? Not sure, but the baddie in my jeans is damn-sure itchin' to get out. Thrills ensue?
Critique:
This isn't a film that's likely to go into anyone's 'Top 10 Thrillers of All-Time' list or inspire any major enthusiasm from fans of the genre, but on this night, going into my screening with the lowest of expectations, it held my interest throughout, maintained an effective dark style, manipulated the story enough for me to be somewhat surprised with the "reveal" and offered many a close-up of Angelina Jolie's fat lips (as well as a gratuitous "jolie" tit shot), for which alone, I'd have paid the price of admission. Not the greatest of endorsements, I know...but still somewhat recommendable in theaters (although more financially palatable on DVD), if only because of its fun cast, effective opening (I can see why the studio showcased its first 9 minutes for free online) and unique location: Montreal, Canada (my hometown). If you've never been to Montreal, it's a city that's been utilized to shoot many films over the past decade or so, but this is one of the few movies actually set here as well and it really helps "up" the beauty of the picture. If you're ever in the neighborhood, drop me a line and we'll go for a beer. Angelina Jolie is also stunning to behold and the director makes no bones about that. A number of close-ups on her face (and one gigantic close-up of her lips) provide us with a bird's eye-view of what a loser Billy Bob Thornton is for dumping her.

She's also a pretty solid actress and holds her own as the lead FBI agent here. I also liked the 3 French actors cast in the film (and like to say "Tchécky Karyo" over and over again...it's fun), although they could have at least tried to change their French-France accents to French-Canadian ones for kicks. Olivier Martinez's character was the most one-dimensional, but also the funniest, bitching from the moment he got on-screen to the end. Lighten up, dude. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the film's homage/rip-off of the brilliant SE7EN via a similar opening credit sequence, plenty of darkness, cadavers, flashlights, SWAT teams breaking down doors, but most ironically, a final scene featuring a delivered closed-up box? "What's in the box!?!" But all that aside, it's the believability of a story as well as its added suspense that anchors the best of thrillers, and for the most part, I bought into this tale without whining about major plot holes and even enjoyed a couple of "boo" moments and its sprinkled suspense. The best way to describe this film would be as a "serviceable thriller" with a semi-interesting plotline, semi-interesting characters, a semi-predictable ending and big-ass lips. I would also suggest that your enjoyment of the film correlate greatly with your initial expectations, as mine were low and therein, somewhat satisfied, while my lovely ladyfriend's were high, and on the whole, went unfulfilled. Unlike our date...hahaha, I crack myself up.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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