Taking Lives is a stylish, defiantly unimaginative serial killer thriller that gets increasingly dopier as the minutes tick by. Pump-action superbabe Angelina Jolie puts her serious face on to star as an FBI profiler brought in by the Montreal police to hunt down a psycho who's been offing young men and stealing their identities. Dig deeper than the classy looks and the shovelful of psychological topsoil, though, and there's nothing here that hasn't been done before - and done better.
Kicking off with a horrorshow flashback, the movie makes like it means business, introducing us to our killer's chilling debut murder. Fast-forward two decades and he's still at it, pulping men's faces and disappearing inside their identities. But now super-sleuth Illeana Scott (Jolie) is on the case, together with Good Cop/Bad Cop Leclair (Tcheky Karyo) and Paquette (Olivier Martinez). We first find Jolie lying in a grave - trying to 'sense' how the victim was murdered. No, really.
As the manhunt progresses, Scott becomes drawn to Jorge Costa (Ethan Hawke), a twitchy art dealer who's the chief witness and also possibly the killer. And it's around here that you realise that Taking Lives is just ticking off the clichés. Chases through busy crowds? Check. Cat-and-mouse stalking in shadowy houses? Check. Autopsies, gross-out crime-scene snaps, rent-a-git Kiefer Sutherland as a potential killer? Checkmate.
"GRAVE-ROBBING PREVIOUS GENRE ENTRIES"
Ironically, director DJ Caruso seems to be trying to ape other killer-thriller directors - David Fincher (Se7en), Jonathan Demme (The Silence Of The Lambs), Ridley Scott (Hannibal) - and as it goes about grave-robbing countless previous genre entries, Taking Lives steadily loses steam instead of catching fire.
Jolie does her best to centre the movie with a sombre, concentrated performance, but Caruso's eager camera is more interested in perving her curves. Even the dark, grainy cinematography and a smart Philip Glass score can't camouflage just how predictable it all is. Watchable, certainly, but you're better off just renting Silence Of The Lambs again.