What's the deal with all the Hollywood stars lately who want to be Clarice Starling? Fourteen years after The Silence of the Lambs made it chic for women to chase serial killers - and a decade since that became a cliche - we've recently seen Meg Ryan and Ashley Judd playing cat-and-mouse games with murderers.
Now it's Angelina Jolie's turn. That is, her turn again, if anyone remembers The Bone Collector. In Taking Lives (R), Jolie plays FBI profiler Illeana Scott, invited by French Canadian police to solve a string of homicides. The border exchange doesn't appear crucial to anything except that it's cheaper to make movies in Canada.
Every movie killer needs a signature. Illeana deduces that the sociopath in Taking Lives is a "life-jacker," someone assuming the identity of his victims. Every female sleuth needs a mentally disturbed inmate providing clues to the killer's identity. Taking Lives has Ethan Hawke doing the Hannibal Lecter thing, although he isn't as bloodthirsty and he is released to help, if that counts for originality.
And, unlike Starling, every female movie sleuth needs a love interest who immediately should be considered a prime suspect. Taking Lives has Olivier Martinez and Kiefer Sutherland lurking around the preview trailer. Meanwhile, Gena Rowlands is apparently the killer's mother, explaining her dread to Illeana. That's fresh, but you have to wonder why she doesn't have a photo or address that would be more helpful.
Taking Lives screened too late for Weekend. We'll see how Jolie's investigation goes and publish a review Friday on Page 2B.