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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( 46:30)
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
    English, English - Hearing Impaired
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Documentaries
  • Gag reel

Taking Lives - Special Director's Cut

Village Roadshow/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 105 mins . MA15+ . PAL


Taking Lives will draw the inevitable comparison to se7en and Silence of the Lambs, even Copycat, Bone Collector (for the Jolie connection) or Fast Time as Ridgemont High. Maybe not the last one.

The comparison is drawn due to the fact that in Taking Lives we have a strong female lead with some obvious frailties who is chasing an active serial killer. However, mentioning the other excellent thrillers in the same review as this film is probably a mistake and an insult because Taking Lives is really missing something important: Suspense and Intrigue.

Suspense is generated in a thriller by the unknown, who is the killer? What will they do next? How will they be caught? In Taking Lives all these questions are answered within the first 30 minutes. Some thrillers get by after blowing who the bad guy is, but Taking Lives just drags on and on with very few surprises, even the twists are obvious and stupid.

The story follows Illeana Scott (Jolie) an FBI profiler with a penchant for lying about in graves and killers beds. She is called in to help on a murder case in Montreal by an old friend Leclair (Karyo). After lying in some graves and sneaking around stinky old basements she soon discovers that the culprit has been murdering his victims and taking over their lives and identities for 20 years (hence the film title).

Insert formulaic ‘falling for the bad guy’ routine and much thoughtful navel staring by Jolie and then the film ends, big deal.

An interesting point is that Kiefer Sutherland, who has third billing in this film, is on screen for less than three minutes, they even make a big deal of his appearance in the documentary included in the extras, perhaps he had a larger part but it was cut.


Presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and enhanced for widescreen displays the video transfer on this DVD is acceptable but not spectacular.

No major problems are evident but dark levels can tend to lose detail even in well lit scenes as well as some minor compression artefacts being present in fast moving or close up shots.

The menu is 16:9 enhanced and animated overlayed with dialog audio clips from the movie but is nothing spectacular. On my usually pause free Pioneer 676A a slight hiccup occured at the layer change. Luckily the change is in a scene change and hardly noticeable.


This DVD comes with two choices of audio: English 2.0 and English 5.1 complemented by subtitles in English.

In this mostly character and dialog driven story the centre channel performs to a high standard. Dialog is always clear and distinct however the odd French accent can be tricky to pick up but this is not a problem with the channel separation more with the actors.

The surround channels are mostly dormant but there are a few scenes where they get some duty, particularly in the chase scene at around the 62 minute mark where the music and effects really stand out. Bass is similarly subdued for the most part but makes an appearance every now and then to good effect.

The 2.0 channel track is typically flat and dull in comparison to the 5.1 track so obviously the full Dolby Digital option is the pick of the two.


There are two editions of Taking Lives available on DVD, the Special Directors Cut and the Deluxe Edition.

The Deluxe Edition was not provided for a comparative review but a little research reveals that it is the original unmodified Theatrical release. The Special Directors Cut being the Theatrical release with around 6 minutes of extra footage, mostly gore and sexual scenes (not at the same time).

The Region 1 version of Special Directors Cut claims to be “unrated” and thus supposedly includes more violence, gore and sexuality, in reality both Region 4 versions have exactly the same rating (MA15+) so exactly what we get for in those extra 6 minutes wasn’t worth an R rating in this region.

Extras included on this DVD include some ordinary promotional documentaries titled Crime Lab: A Taking Lives documentary. Split into four sections and running at about twenty minutes this documentary features the usual cast and crew interviews cut with scenes from the movie and behind the scenes footage.

Also included are a Theatrical Trailer and a gag real showing bloopers from behind the scenes, something you would expect in a comedy but it seemed out of place in this type of film.


Fans is the Thriller genre may have already seen this film, mainly due to the high profile stars which the producers where likely very happy to have on board. Unfortunately the rest of the package just doesn’t live up to the potential of what could have been a suspenseful story, maybe director D.J. Caruso should stick to directing TV.

Despite all the negative vibes in this review there's got to be something good to say, surely? There is one thing, fans of Jolie will be happy to see her take her shirt off (again). How's that for positive?

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      And I quote...
    "Fans of Jolie will be happy to see her take her shirt off (again)."
    - Chris Hore
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Digitrex GK-2700
    • Projector:
          BenQ PB6100
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V995
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale Diamond
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wharfedale Modus
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale Diamond
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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