Taking Lives

Clichéd, but Well-Made

Main Cast: Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Tcheky Karyo, Olivier Martinez

Director: D.J. Caruso

Plot Summary: A killer is loose in Canada and an expert FBI agent is called in to assist the local police in tracking down the murderer. Can they stop him before he kills again?

I realize that my above summary may describe any number of similar films: in fact, the whole police thriller genre. What can I say? It’s a well-worn track this movie gallops around, and while the turns may come in different places, there is only one beginning and only one ending. Within that lies creativity.

And with this the director D.J. Caruso and his crew mostly succeed. The locals are unique for southern American viewers (the United States of America to you and me), being up north in Canada. Nothing I saw was completely out of the park, of course: mostly cityscapes and brief forays into nature, which could be anywhere, even in the U.S. But it was different enough to be notable.

The acting is solid to brilliant. Jolie plays the FBI agent Illeana Scott to perfection: hard when needed, but not overly so; intelligent and skilled in mind-play but still emotionally vulnerable in the odd moment, sometimes unwisely so. She is called in to help two Canadian detectives when it appears a madman is running amok. Paquette (Martinez) is less thrilled than the older Leclair (Karyo), and makes his displeasure evident: dishonest he is not. Cliché situation, but done well.

During their investigations they meet an artist named Costa (Hawke), who may have seen the actual murderer, thus he must be protected. Thus enters the young man to play off the young FBI, and their courting dance is easy to watch.

The plot progresses, and they may have an identity to the killer: one of a pair of twins, brought to their attention by their mother Mrs. Asher (Gena Rowlands), who is more than just a walk-on. Everything does fit together, as well as the lurking presence of Hart, played by Kiefer Sutherland: his presence adds complexity.

Overall I enjoyed this one: it was skillfully done, nothing overemphasized. There were a few scenes that were completely implausible, the outcome dictated by plot more than reason, but I can live with that. As long as I am entertained I can let logic relax. And so I was, and I hope you are as well.

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