In her never-ending quest to destroy all expectations of quality
in her films, Angelina Jolie stars in “Taking Lives,”
an empty psychological thriller. As Illeana, a hot-on-the-outside,
cold-on-the-inside psychic detective, Jolie plays a woman who,
among other things, lays in graveyards to pick up vibrations of the
deceased. Uncannily observant and intuitive, she is called in by
the FBI to help the Montreal Police Department solve a mysterious
series of crimes.
During the course of the investigation, viewers come to realize
that the serial killer is the unloved survivor of a pair of twin
brothers. Scorned by his mother’s affection toward his dead
twin, he wanders off at an early age, begins killing people who
match his age and description and then assumes their identity.
After catching on to the killer’s M.O., the police bait him
in an attempt to end his spree.
“Lives” is trapped so firmly within its genre
boundaries that it’s hard not to scream out plot twists to
help the characters along. The lighting is especially dark to
reinforce the mood — for those who think this could be a
comedy — and the shock-and-awe technique of fright makes
waste of an atmospheric Philip Glass score.
The script is often inexplicable as the characters engage in
implausible actions that confuse more than captivate. The film is a
shining example of the trappings of commercial film-making as there
is even a chase sequence that follows Hollywood conventions.
Moving along the thriller checklist, there is also the cold
reception for the FBI intruding onto the scene of the local police
department, as well as the requisite phone conversation with the
killer, in which he discusses how similar he is to the good, but
dark, detective. “Hello, Clarisse … ” Oops,
In addition, Hollywood needs a new creepy guy, because Kiefer
Sutherland’s (“Phone Booth”) presence alone hints
at the fact that several twist endings are inevitable.
Jolie’s role as the detached ascetic could be interesting,
but with absolutely no back story it comes off as empty and just a
requirement for the plot. What could have been an interesting
rumination on identity ends up being a laughable movie in which
even an Angelina Jolie sex scene comes off as perfunctory. What a
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars