You do not need me to tell you, the grip that investigative thrillers have over pop-culture, and the lives of the officers tasked to track down these elusive individuals can make tantalising viewing. With so many well-known variations it can be hard to be novel, yet that does not stop artists crafting more inventive killers and their chasers. In 2004, a rather intriguing plot was given a unique combination and the result was a peculiar thriller called Taking Lives.
Special Agent Scott is called into Montreal as the city’s police department could use some help. What with bizarre cases of deceased relatives coming back to life, along with a spate of premeditated murders taking place, that could potentially be related. One such incident was stopped midway by charming art dealer, James Acosta, who Scott maybe developing an attraction to as he keeps showing up and assisting the investigation. However, the murderer is still out there and has Acosta in their sights. How can you trust anything when there is a killer who is adept at taking their victim’s identity?
Five minutes in and you might be thinking you are watching the wrong the film, with rather relaxed scenes of two youth travelling across the countryside. But after the shocking end of that sequence, and the film’s Se7en inspired intro, you will know you are right on track. As you might have surmised Taking Lives does draw upon a lot of traits that remain popular in the genre, and those who devour these early 2000s procedural films may recognise a lot of hallmarks, there are still some shimmers of ingenuity, notably in the casting of then up-and-coming stars. Taking Lives utilises talent from leading star Angelina Jolie, and the likes of Kiefer Sutherland, Ethan Hawke and even an appearance from a young Paul Dano. They have some fun in their roles, especially with the dark subject matter.
The quirkiness primarily comes from Jolie’s Scott, who is a curious character, indulging in some eccentricities while diving headfirst into work. While peculiar personalities have become more and more of a staple of lead investigators in murder mysteries. There is something about Scott, especially contrasted to the serious and by-the-book police detectives working this case, that makes her stand out. Taking the action to the cities of Canada is also an inspired choice of location, As the architecture, and accents of remnant French culture help give Taking Lives a European feeling that helps it stand apart from its relatively crowded competition.
If you are a fan of thrillers where the characters vary, but the procedures stay the same, Taking Lives would be a fine addition. With inventive turns, especially towards the end that will keep genre fans intrigued. A mixture of uniqueness and captivating moodiness, just like the characters in the film itself. A night with Taking Lives you will find yourself drawn into an odd yet fascinating case.
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