Picks and Pans Review: Taking Lives

updated 03/29/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/29/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland, Olivier Martinez

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Why are female FBI agents who specialize in profiling serial killers always depicted as lonely single gals vulnerable to manipulation by charming psychopaths? Answer: So that studios can make women-in-peril films with a leering sexual edge while maintaining politically correct feminist bona fides.

Following—some steps behind—on the heels of The Silence of the Lambs' Clarice Starling, Taking Lives' Special Agent Illeana Scott (Jolie) has been summoned from Quantico, Va., to Montreal to nab a nasty killer. Plot twists follow, along with the introduction of a host of possible suspects.

Lives is better than Ashley Judd's recent similar try, Twisted, at serving up sex and scares. But the characterizations don't run deep enough to make the film matter. Jolie, whose lips are monumental enough to serve as a weapon in their own right, strides through as if she learned all she knows from Angie Dickinson on Police Woman. Hawke, even when trying to project good-guy appeal as an art dealer helping to ID a suspect, gives off a weasel scent. (R)

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