"Stalking a Mystery Killer"
What You Need To Know:
TAKING LIVES is more interested in providing suspense, rather than assaulting our eyes and ears with extreme violence, gore, foul language, and sex. There are moments in the movie, however, where suspense and character take a back seat to language and sex. The movie’s suspense is very well-done, as are the performances.
(BB, LLL, VV, SS, NN, A, D, M) Moral worldview about the hunt for a serial killer in Montreal, Canada; at least 28 obscenities (including some “f” words), two strong profanities, and one light profanity; strong thriller violence and suspense includes teenager pushes man into oncoming car, man jumps through window to avoid capture, shootout heard, man punches pregnant woman and throws her to the floor, man tries to strangle woman, woman plunges scissors into man’s chest, car crashes and eventually explodes, and images of murder victims lying in pools of blood and some with their skulls smashed; scene of depicted fornication; upper female nudity and upper male nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, serial killer steals people’s identities and deceives police, and heroine takes revenge while defending her life.
TAKING LIVES is more interested in providing suspense to moviegoers, rather than assaulting their eyes and ears with extreme violence, gore, foul language, and sex, as other Hollywood thrillers do. There are moments in the movie, however, where suspense and character take a back seat to language and sex.
The movie begins with a runaway teenager, Martin, killing another young man on a Canadian highway and taking his identity. Twenty years later, Martin has built up a list of murder victims, whose identities he also assumes until the next one comes along. Thinking that her son was dead, Martin’s mother briefly spots Martin in Montreal, but the police are not interested, until a couple victims show up and suspicion finally lands on the slippery Martin.
A female FBI agent, Illeana Scott, played by Angelina Jolie, is called to help the local detectives on the case. She interrogates an eyewitness to one of the murders in Montreal, a young artist named James Costa, played by Ethan Hawke. Costa gives her a current description of Martin. Agent Scott and her fellow officers decide to use Costa to entrap Martin, when it appears that Martin may be setting up Costa as his next victim. A series of exciting cat-and-mouse games, with plenty of surprise twists, ensues. Agent Scott’s growing emotional attachment to the witness complicates matters.
Except for some gruesome photos of murdered dead men, the violence in TAKING LIVES is more restrained than one might expect from an R-rated thriller these days. TAKING LIVES contains, however, some very strong foul language and a passionate sex scene with brief nudity. It would have been nice if the filmmakers had shown the same kind of restraint toward this content, especially since TAKING LIVES is one of the more effective thrillers to come along in recent years. The suspense in this movie is very well-done, despite a couple apparent major plot holes that show up after one of the major twists near the end. Kudos also go to the cast. Despite her acclaim as an actress, Angelina Jolie has seldom ever been as effective as she is here. Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland, Olivier Martinez, and Tcheky Karyo offer excellent support. The movie’s R-rated content, taken overall, deserves an extreme caution, however.