Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dumb like me: "Taking Lives"

So she has an Oscar. That doesn't mean I think Angelina Jolie is Meryl Streep. Still, she can do better than this crap, and showing us her goodies (yet again) doesn't make up for it.

I vaguely recall when "Taking Lives" was in theaters, and I very clearly recall having no desire to shell out money for it. In short, this is the kind of movie HBO was created for. "Was there a movie you never would have bought a ticket for but might have checked out for free? Hey, we'll bring it right to your living room!"

I caught this fine film the other night. Normally I'd make a joke about it being on one of the HBO channels -- HBO, HBO2, HBO with Aloe -- but I actually watched it on hi-def HBO. You know, so I could get the widescreen effect. But you know what? This movie sucked at any size.

Our story opens with a young man encountering another young man on a train somewhere in Canada. It turns out one of these young men is not so nice, starting a killing spree that, while the credits roll, brings us to the present. There, some Montreal cops are trying to solve some murders when FBI Special Agent Angelina shows up to help.

Yeah, ol' "Vial of Blood Around My Neck" Jolie is a Fed. You know, I don't think the cop thing worked back in "The Bone Collector" -- didn't see that movie, but I'm just guessing -- and it really doesn't fly in the Lara Croft/Brad Pitt era. Seriously, when your everyday life is so crazy -- "I left Billy Bob, now I adopt Asian kids" -- how can anyone expect you to be an authority figure, even if you're a somewhat kooky FBI profiler? Sorry, no.

Anyway, Jolie and the cops -- including Olivier "I've bumped uglies with the goddess, Diane Lane" Martinez -- get a witness to the serial killer's latest crime in Ethan Hawke ("Explorers"). That sets off a series of scenes in which police think they're closing in on the bad guy but somehow can't seal the deal. Ain't that a bitch.

Other recognizable faces drift through this setting, such as Gena Rowlands and Kiefer "I still do movies, I swear!" Sutherland. I'm not saying the movie isn't watchable. I've come to have a soft spot for Montreal as a movie setting, and even in FBI garb Angelia is never hard to look at. As required by her contract, she also gets a rowdy sex scene. Seriously, what is the deal with that? No complaining, but it's just weird that she always wants some aggressive sex on camera. Yeah, weird ... or awesome, depending on your point of view.

Sure, the movie is watchable, but it's nowhere near believable, even for a suspense movie. As a bonus, it's utterly predictable, too. I'm halfway tempted to "reveal" some of the "twists" because I would neither reveal anything nor would you consider them real twists. (Did the quotes give that away?) But no, I'll let you play Smartest Person Alive like I did while watching this movie. ("Yep, that's what I thought.") Oh, crap ... I just realized I already said Angelina gets naked. Sorry to ruin that for you.


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