You know what’s a weird movie? Taking Lives.
At first glance Taking Lives seems to be exactly the same movie as Murder by Numbers, but somehow it’s not! Although we do have a female protagonist who is seen by her peers as cold and obsessed with morbidity, working for the FBI and better at her job than everyone else who gets put on a case where she becomes very involved following a series of clues until she becomes emotionally compromised and ends up almost murdered, they’re really different!
Murder by Numbers stars Sandra Bullock, and this movie stars Angelina Jolie. Did you know blonde women can’t play dark characters? It’s crazy because it’s true.
Angelina Jolie plays Illeana, the headstrong and talented but distant officer I just described, and Ethan Hawke plays the serial killer she’s trying to catch BUT ALSO the friendly art dealer she’s fucking! Twist!
This serial killer has been taking lives (look at that) since he was younger. Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood, My Dreams) does an incredible job in the scene where he figures out this is what he wants to do and kills the first guy whose identity he takes, with a dropkick into oncoming traffic.
The movie basically hinges on the fact that this FBI team are looking for this serial killer so they’re posted up with the guy who witnessed him murdering someone’s face off, who seems like he is being primed to be the next victim but HE’S THE SERIAL KILLER THE WHOLE TIME. Yeah, I mean, this movie would have been made exponentially better if a little more work had gone into making this transition more plausible. Basically we have an entire character (played by Kiefer Sutherland) who seems to be the serial killer; he goes to Ethan Hawke’s art show (of course he has an art show. How else would we know he’s introspective and trustworthy?) follows him home, breaks into his apartment and tries to kill him, and later they just explain it by saying he was a drug addict and someone owed him money? Or drugs? It was a really sloppy narrative and it made the whole thing less impressive. The best part about psychological thrillers is re-watching them and picking up new clues with the new knowledge you have (See: Memento, Fracture, Red Dragon, etc). This one kind of blows in that aspect.
An aspect it does not blow in, is sex. There was a great sex scene in here, really top notch. I wanted it to be longer, but you know how life is.
The honeymoon is over pretty soon, literally the day after they fuck, she sees him murder his mother in an elevator. Bummer! It’s always the cute ones amirite!?? So she’s like “Ugh, the only person I’ve ever connected to romantically is a serial killer! Blerg” then she runs in the rain for a lil bit, then I don’t know some time passes, she gets fired because you know, women. Then we fast-forward a few months, probably around nine, she’s living in a small town, she’s embraced knit cotton (lotta bohemian dresses. almost too many) and GASP she’s pregnant!!
Then Ethan Hawke comes in her house and at first is like I love you, but then is insulting, then stabs her in her pregnant belly with a pair of scissors. Okay. I get that in this fast paced world of cinema and blood, you need to be shocking (cough or just good cough) to make an impression. Do I remember anything from the movie Shoot’Em Up besides the fact that someone got murdered with a carrot? No. But plunging scissors blade first into the swelled belly of a pregnant woman is something you simply cannot unsee. Also some evolutionary instinct deep inside me recoiled in empathized horror and I felt weird, like someone stabbed me in my own pregnant stomach. It was like the torture scene in A Clockwork Orange but without the meaning behind it making it necessary. It was too much! It doesn’t matter that later it was a fake stomach.
Oh also, yes, Ladies, here’s a tip: always have the last laugh on your serial killer stalker by faking an elaborate pregnancy for nine months! Works every time.
Basically this movie is kind of fun to watch if you’re in the mood but it’s not anything amazing, there are much better films in the genre. I actually just looked up “Psychological Thrillers on Netflix” and found this so I’m exited to watch them. Sorry Angelina. Salt was better than this 😦