Angelina Jolie finds herself trapped in a web of romance, crime and deceit in the new thriller Taking Lives.
It’s too bad the script seems like another Ashley Judd-esque recycle, with the serial-killer card being played way too predictably.
The story brings FBI special agent Illeana Scott (Jolie) to foreign territory, as she is asked by a friend in the Montreal police department to help catch a serial killer who has been wreaking havoc in the city.
A break in the case brings investigators close, as a lonely artist named Costa (Ethan Hawke) catches the killer in the act and tries unsuccessfully to save one of his victims. But good things do arise when he gets a look at the killer and gives Scott something to work with.
The trail she uncovers leads her through the predictable twists and turns, along with some unexpected surprises along the way, but the plot ultimately wears itself out.
A strong, but brief performance by Kiefer Sutherland as the main suspect of the crime is effective in leading us on one of the proverbial roller-coaster moments of the film, but it somehow seems too soon in the movie to be unbelievable (obviously you can’t catch the killer an hour into the film).
Olivier Martinez, the Frenchman best known as the seductive 20-something Manhattanite in Unfaithful, plays an important part in the movie but seems somehow cast aside.
His role lacks depth and he ends up seeming like more of a bother than a help, both in the fictional aspect and in watching the film on screen.
The genre of the thriller itself is hard to pull off, so you can’t fault Angelina Jolie for not hitting the nail on the head this time.
It’s the lack of a unique plot that makes this movie seem lackluster.
We are captivated by the chemistry she shares onscreen with Ethan Hawke and the eeriness of the subject matter, but the movie is missing the truly spellbinding kind of script that would bring it all together.
In the end, the believability of the plot comes into question, exposing its many holes to us in various forms, especially in the second half of the movie. Even a surprise ending and a solid performance by both Jolie and Hawke can’t save this mediocre, but hardly noteworthy film.
Ross Bercik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org