Taking Lives (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||D. J. Caruso|
|Produced by||Mark Canton
|Written by||Michael Pye (novel)|
|Screenplay by||Jon Bokenkamp|
|Music by||Philip Glass|
Village Roadshow Pictures
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Running time||103 minutes|
The original music score was composed by Philip Glass and the main title's theme was composed by Austrian Walter Werzowa, best known for the Intel jingle and his work in the band Edelweiss. The film was loosely adapted from a 1999 thriller novel by Michael Pye of the same title.
Story and writing credit
The film is based on the novel of the same title by Michael Pye. Numerous hands had a part in the screenplay as script doctors. The cover page of the screenplay credits Jon Bokenkamp with the original draft, Nicholas Kazan with subsequent revisions, Hilary Seitz with more revisions, and David Ayer with the last revisions (to February 28, 2003). The WGA screenwriting credit system ultimately awarded screenplay and adaptation credit to Bokenkamp alone.
The film opens in early 1980s Canada where teenager Martin Asher (Paul Dano) is seen ambling about a bus station, seemingly uncertain of his destination. He befriends another teen on the bus, Matt Soulsby (Justin Chatwin) and the two talk about their plans for the future. When their bus breaks down, the two acquire a car from a nearby garage. While Martin is driving, a tire blows. Matt struggles to change the tire and Martin comments on how he and Matt are both about the same height, and kicks Matt into the path of an oncoming truck. He is last seen toting Matt's guitar and walking away singing in a voice similar to Matt's.
Twenty years later, a successful FBI profiler, Illeana Scott (Angelina Jolie), is summoned to help out Canadian law enforcement in Montreal, to apprehend Asher, who has been killing people for years and assuming their identities as he travels across North America. Scott has to adjust to working in a strange city with a police team that she does not really fit in with.
On a ferry to Quebec City, Martin's mother (Gena Rowlands) recognizes her son. After docking she locates a police officer and tells him that she saw her son on the ferry. Upon telling the officer her son died 19 years ago, she discusses the matter with a city official. She is convinced the man she saw was her son, and exclaims to the officer that her son is "dangerous". Based on Mrs. Asher's statement, the body believed to be that of her son is exhumed for an autopsy.
The team meets with art salesman James Costa (Hawke), an eyewitness who saw Asher kill his last victim. Costa makes a drawing of Asher and, within a couple of days, Asher's apartment is found. Scott discovers Asher's next target is Costa, so protecting him is priority number one. During the time they spend together, Scott and Costa begin to develop feelings for each other, though Scott refuses to become involved with him because of the ongoing case.
Asher flees with Costa as a hostage and Scott pursues them. Scott sees Asher die in a car accident and the case is closed. As Scott is packing up, preparing to return home, Costa visits her in her hotel room. Without saying anything, he undresses her and they make passionate love on a chest of drawers and the bed, surrounded by gruesome crime scene photos. The next morning, Scott awakes to find herself partly covered in Costa's blood. At first, she fears he is dead, but then he awakes and they discover he had merely popped the stitches in his arm that he received after the auto accident.
As Costa's stitches are repaired in the hospital, Scott is called down to the morgue as Mrs. Asher has come to identify the burned body of her son, killed in the accident. She says the body is not her son. Mrs. Asher and Scott realize that Asher is still alive. Mrs. Asher is shocked, leaves the morgue, and goes to the elevator, and Scott chases after her. Before Scott can reach her, the elevator door closes. Scott descends the stairs, hoping to intercept Mrs. Asher on the ground floor. When the elevator door opens, Scott sees Costa covered in blood, having killed Mrs. Asher - who Scott realizes is Costa's mother. The police try to capture Asher who escapes the hospital. Scott returns to her hotel room and frantically washes herself, in a state of manic disgust. An investigation shows that the man who died in the car accident, who the real Asher had identified as Asher, was actually Christopher Hart (Kiefer Sutherland), a drug dealer and art thief to whom Asher owed $80,000, and whom Asher murdered. The Montreal police chase Asher, but he escapes in a train station and boards a train headed east of Montreal, meanwhile setting up his next victim, a sports talent scout. After that, he calls Scott on the phone and taunts her. Scott admits to having consensual sex with Asher, and is consequently fired from the FBI.
Seven months later, Scott is living in an desolate farmhouse by herself in rural Pennsylvania and looking heavily pregnant with Asher's twin boys. One day as she sits alone in her home, she discovers Asher has broken into her house. She frantically tries to escape, but Asher quickly overpowers her and then reveals he has found all the guns she had hidden throughout the house. Asher makes her tea and tells her they could start over and live together as a family, but a disgusted Scott tells him she does not want to. Enraged, Asher begins beating and choking her and eventually stabs her in her belly with a pair of scissors. Scott, seemingly unharmed by the stabbing, shocks Asher by quickly stabbing him in the heart with the same scissors. As Asher lies dying, Scott removes a prosthetic pregnant belly, and tells him the past seven months have been a carefully planned trap. The film ends with Scott calling the police, saying "It's over," and staring out her window.
- Angelina Jolie as Illeana Scott
- Ethan Hawke as James Costa/Martin Asher
- Kiefer Sutherland as Christopher Hart
- Gena Rowlands as Mrs. Rebecca Asher
- Olivier Martinez as Joseph Paquette
- Tchéky Karyo as Hugo Leclair
- Jean-Hugues Anglade as Emil Duval
- Paul Dano as Young Martin Asher
- Justin Chatwin as Matt Soulsby
- André Lacoste as Cashier
- Billy Two Rivers as Car Salesman
- Richard Lemire as Québec City Cop
- Julien Poulin as Québec City Inspector
- Marie-Josée Croze as Medical Examiner
- Emmanuel Bilodeau as Doctor
- Christian Tessier as Interrogation Officer
The film has received mostly poor reviews, Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 22% based on reviews from 157 critics. Film critic Roger Ebert gave it three out of four stars, describing it as "an effective thriller, on its modest but stylish level". Total Film, a UK film magazine, gave it two stars out of five with the verdict: "Starting off well but rapidly losing its way, Taking Lives is more serial-killer flick than serial killer -- we've been fed this mush a thousand times."
Taking Lives grossed $32,682,342 in the United States and $65,470,529 worldwide.