johnlink ranks TAKING LIVES (2004)

This is a movie which fell under the same category as SPARTAN. That is to say, it is a film I remember seeing years ago at a movie night,  remember liking enough to purchase (though I was less discriminating in those days with my money) and remembered little about it, save for a scene or two which hunkered in tight in a part of my brain which is saved for unnecessary movie knowledge. But I was in the mood for a thriller, so here we go (with SOME SPOILERS)…

I watched TAKING LIVES (2004) on 7.3.10. It was my second viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

This is one of those super-deducing-agent films where we have a serial killer profiler who is much better at her job than anyone else. Angelina Jolie’s character in this one would be at home on an episode of CSI or BONES or any other of the myriad shows which tackle this profession.

Jolie plays the part as written, seemingly invincible at first only to become more flawed as the film moves on. We learn that she isn’t perfect, and it is a note that this movie gets right. She has a major fall before she gets the opportunity to redeem herself, and her character arc is tangible.

Ethan Hawke and Kiefer Sutherland play the potential bad guys, and with this trio we have a fairly well acted picture. They all, in their own way, elevate the scenes they are involved in. The casting of Kiefer, in particular, is inspired in that it breaks a common Hollywood thriller rule which becomes apparent by the end of the film.

The writing is hard to peg. The characters are well developed, and the concepts are there. The structure is, frankly, weird. I’m not looking for your typical three act structure in everything, not by any means. I welcome scripts which break the mold. But when you try to resolve the film 55% of the way through, we as an audience KNOW there is more. They blew it by showing a body way to early. They should have made available the possibility that a victim got away, or that a body was somehow switched. Instead we all know what’s coming next because so few characters have been introduced. In that manner, this is one of those films which is written very well for the first half, and doesn’t live up to its own hype by the end. The last scene is memorable (it’s the one which lodged in my brain), but it’s a parlor trick which results in slight eye-rolling rather than a great a-ha!

There should be a Hall-of-Fame (or Shame, perhaps) which includes films which start great and putter out. TAKING LIVES would be in it.


FILM: 5; MOVIE: 7; ACTING: 6; WRITING: 4 (what is this?)



~ by johnlink00 on July 6, 2010.

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