Taking Lives
The Director's Cut

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland and Olivier Martinez
Warner Home Video
Certificate: 15
Available 27 September 2004

A young man travelling with a stranger pushes him in front of a vehicle and takes his identity. A few years later a murdered body turns up in Montreal, Canada. It is seriously mutilated, but a forensic reconstruction is conducted under the orders of Special Agent Illeana Scott of the FBI. Meanwhile, a woman reports seeing her dead son, and when his body is exhumed her story is substanciated. A witness to the murder has sketched the recently seen son of the woman, who it turns out had a favoured twin brother. The killer is temporarily living his victims' lives because he wants to remove himself from his earlier life - in other words, any life is better than his own. Scott gets drawn to the witness, but is he the innocent in fear of his life that he portrays?...

It's easy to dismiss this film as another in hundreds of American-style cops and robbers. Granted, it's set in Montreal, Canada, where there's a large French quarter, but you still have your mean, gun-toting detectives and a hard-nosed FBI agent, played by Angelina Tomb Raider Jolie. However, it is different in that the killer's sole motive is to live another person's life for a while, choosing somebody with as little ties as possible, discovering a bit about them before murdering them and mutilating the body so it can't be recognised.

Ethan Hawkes is solid as the villain of the piece and Jolie, who I've never really thought has had much going for her in the acting fraternity, aside from her admittedly good looks, herself puts in a good performance here - managing at relevant stages of the film to appear both tough and vulnerable.

The epilogue scene serves as the main conclusion to the film and incorporates a clever twist. However, having said everything above, Taking Lives still comes across as a low-key TV movie, far removed from blockbuster status and having a budget look representing the change from the director's supermarket food bill.

Ty Power