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Taking Lives is a 2004 psychological thriller film starring Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke. The film was marketed with the tagline "He would kill to be you."

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 Intelmarker jingle and his work in the band Edelweiss.

Story and writing credit

The film was 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.

Plot summary

The film opens in the early 1980's where the young and shy teenager Martin Asher (Paul Dano) is seen fleeing from home, taking a bus in Canada. 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 decide to rent a car and drive all the way to Seattlemarker. However, all ends badly when the car gets a flat. While Matt is changing the tire, Martin comments on how he and Matt are both about the same height. He quickly pushes Matt in the way of an oncoming truck, causing a major traffic accident that kills Matt and the driver of the other truck. He is last seen taking Matt's guitar and walking away singing in the fashion that Matt had been in the car.

Picking up twenty years later, a successful FBImarker profiler, Illeana Scott (Jolie), is summoned to help out Canadianmarker law enforcement in Montrealmarker, to hunt down the serial killer Martin Asher, who assumes the lives and identities of the people he kills as he travels across North America. Asher has killed multiple men, assuming their identities for a few years before killing again and beginning a new life. Illeana has to adjust to working in a strange city with a police team that she does not really fit in with. Meanwhile, Mrs. Asher (Rowlands), Martin's mother, claims she has recently seen her son in Montreal and tells the police she truly believes Martin is evil.

The team meets with art salesman James Costa (Hawke), an eyewitness who saw Asher kill his last victim. James makes a drawing of Asher and within a couple of days, Asher is found. Illeana discovers Asher's next target is Costa, so protecting him is priority number one. During the time they spend together, Illeana and James begins to develop feelings for each other, though Illeana refuses to become involved with him because of the ongoing case.

After kidnapping Costa with Illeana in pursuit, Asher supposedly dies in a car accident and the case is closed. At this time, Illeana and Costa become romantically involved (even having sex) and Illeana finds herself really falling for Costa. However, when Mrs. Asher comes to identify the body of her son, the body turns out not to be her son's, and that Martin is still alive somewhere. A terrified Mrs. Asher flees the hospital morgue and into the elevator, but before Illeana can follow her in, the doors shut. When they finally open, Illeana sees James covered in blood, standing over Mrs. Asher's mutilated corpse, and realizes Costa is Asher, that Asher killed the actual Costa months ago. An investigation shows that the man the real Asher had identified as Asher was really Christopher Hart, an art thief who did business with Asher and was cheated by him. The Montreal police chase Asher, but he escapes in a train station and disappears, and approaches his next victim, a travelling sports talent scout. After that, he calls Illeana on the phone and makes fun of her. Consequently, Illeana is fired from the FBI.

Seven months later, Illeana is living in a desolate farmhouse by herself in rural Pennsylvania, clearly pregnant. It is revealed she is 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 overpowers her, punching her and throwing her to the ground. Asher tells her he could live as a family with her, and a disgusted Illeana tells him she doesn't know who he is, that she is carrying 'James Costa's' babies. In fury, Asher begins choking her and eventually stabs her in the stomach with a pair of scissors. Illeana, seemingly unharmed by the stabbing, shocks Asher by stabbing him in the heart with the same pair. As Asher lies dying, Illeana removes a prosthetic pregnant belly, and tells him the past seven months have been a carefully planned trap. The film ends with Illeana calling the police, saying "It's over," and staring out her window. Asher is now finally dead.


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