By Nell Minow,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
A couple of genuine thrills but not for kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Violence & Scariness
Intense and graphic violence, many murders, grisly dead bodies. Scary stuff.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual references and a sexual situation including nudity.
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Some very strong language, including anti-gay insult.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is an R-rated thriller with intense and graphic violence. There are graphic injuries and grisly dead bodies, including some decomposed and one badly burned, plus a severed finger and a bloody wound. There are many tense scenes with characters in peril and one (apparently) especially horrific injury. Characters drink, smoke, and use strong language. There are sexual references and a sexual situation including nudity.
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Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
In TAKING LIVES, Illeana Scott (Angelina Jolie) is an FBI profiler who immerses herself in her cases. She eats alone in an elegant hotel room, staring at photos of crime scenes and corpses, and getting as up close and personal at murder scenes in order to solve crimes. Scott is brought in by the Canadian police to help them solve a murder linked to other killings, probably the work of a man who kills men his age and size and then takes over their lives until it is time to move on to the next, "like a hermit crab -- he outgrows one body and starts looking for a new one." The only witness is Costa (Ethan Hawke), an artist preparing for a big show. Illeana is not sure whether to trust him, arrest him, or fall for him. But is what draws her to him the part of her that understands killers?
Is It Any Good?
Jolie's character is inconsistently conceived here, forcing her to take on almost as many personalities as the killer, cool professional, tomboy feminist, girlish romantic, and nesting loner. She has to be tough and vulnerable as the whims of the script demand, and that takes some of the steam out of the story.
But director D.J. Caruso and a strong cast make the best of the potboiler material, creating a nicely creepy atmosphere and knowing when to surprise the audience with a shock -- or a laugh -- to release the tension. So if you don't try to make it all make sense, you might find it to be a thriller with a couple of genuine thrills.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what a profiler of serial killers might have in common with the killers to be profiled, a theme also explored in the Hannibal Lecter books by Thomas Harris.
- In theaters: March 12, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: August 16, 2004
- Cast: Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland
- Director: D.J. Caruso
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence including disturbing images, language and some sexuality
- Last updated: December 8, 2022
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