Taking Lives (2004)
Main cast: Angelina Jolie (Illeana Scott), Ethan Hawke (Costa), Kiefer Sutherland (Hart), Gena Rowlands (Mrs Asher), Olivier Martinez (Paquette), and Tchéky Karyo (Leclair)
Director: DJ Caruso

Someone is killing men in Montreal and police chief Leclair asks his friend at the FBI, profiler Illeana Scott, to help. She gets little help from misogynist cops like Paquette, and the real complication arises when she starts falling for a witness, gallery owner Costa. Oh dear, sometimes it really doesn't pay to live in Canada.

A very predictable plot twist that I can see coming the moment the person involved is introduced into the story? Red herrings that don't work? Check, check.

Ethan Hawke playing the nervous, jittery guy the same way that he played Finnegan Bell in Great Expectations - heck, Costa may as well be Finn? Check.

Olivier Martinez speaking English not well at all? Check.

The fact that I've seen better in an episode of the TV show Crossing Jordan? Check.

Angelina Jolie does a great job as Illeana Scott, an otherwise derivative eccentric female forensic stereotype that is taking over the sexy FBI agent as the new fanboy drool material, because her eyes as well as her face provide the emotional anchor to engage the viewer's emotions. Sometimes this emotion may as well be puzzlement as to why she isn't working on better films than this formulaic dreck, but at least it's an emotion, I guess, which is better than complete indifference altogether.

What makes me subtract major brownie points from this movie is that the late act of the movie enforces the unfortunate weak stereotype about women. Illeana makes one understandable mistake and every man in this movie ruthlessly aims for her throat. Paquette, the charmer, after subjecting her - and me - to tasteless misogynist jokes at Illeana's expense, even hits her in the face. And she takes it all in. Then again, her mistake is a classic "women are overemotional twits" example and the subsequent exploitative denouement only makes things worse and leaves a bad taste where I'm concerned.

And when this element of misogyny is the only thing that stands out in this otherwise pedestrian and formulaic crime drama, Taking Lives may as well pull the plug on itself and spare everybody the trouble.

Rating: 56

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