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Taking Lives

The Best of the Batch

Director D.J. Caruso's Seven-esque detective thriller Taking Lives, starring Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke, opens this week in the wake of recent suspense busts Secret Window and last month's Twisted. More straightforward and familiar, Taking Lives is also the best of the new batch.

FBI profiler Illeana Scott (Jolie) is brought to Montreal to help track down a serial killer whose M.O., in true demented lunatic form, is to smash the victim's face in, lop off his hands, and then steal his identity. Hence, taking lives and, well…taking lives. Hawke plays James Costa, an art dealer who is both witness and suspect in the latest murder.

The great thing about Taking Lives is that it doesn't save all of its plot twists for the climatic final moments, the routine since The Sixth Sense. It actually develops the twists and turns, making them plausible and intriguing instead of just shocking. The audience is led to both doubt and trust the various suspects and explanations the film offers.

Taking Lives is not a great film. It could have played more with the concept of identity and what that means in today's society. It is, however, well told and good for a thoughtful scare without being overly gimmicky or heady.

Stars: 3.5 out of 5