“Taking Lives” – The Psychopathic Movie

This writing is a viewer’s response to a movie, Taking Lives. This movie was watched in 2009, although the movie’s production was several years ago. This writing is republished for sharing only. However, please do not plagiarize. Thank you.

Taking Lives – 2004

A Slight Review of Taking Lives

Main Character: Agent FBI, Scott Illeana (Angelina Jolie)

Setting of the Movie: Somewhere in the United States


The story presented in Taking Lives is dominantly related to the story of a person with a psychopathic character. FBI and all related parties have worked together and trying to discover the murder of many people in the town. Agent Scott FBI, a woman, has been almost closer to the suspect. After the story of the movie moves forward, there was a scene that showed that due to her weakness in controlling her own passion as a woman, she is suddenly fallen in love to the suspect that she did not recognize since the very first time she handles the murder case. At the end of the story, the murder is James, a man she loves. It was so tragic but in some aspects, the story of this movie does really make sense. And, as a viewer, I would recommend this movie to be watched by students taking literary studies. This movie is suitable to be analyzed by applying the theory of psychoanalysis.

James, the psychopathic character in Taking Lives

In the story of Taking Lives, James is a psychopathic character that can be judged as this at the end of the story. This is because the character of James at the beginning of the story is introduced to the viewers as someone who has seen the way the murder kills his victims. When he was being interviewed in the FBI office , James does not show any strange things as a witness. When Agent Scott FBI came into the interview room, she noticed several things. From the interview, the agent hypothesized that the witness is just a natural and common man as the others.

Scott Illeana, the Agent of FBI

As a woman, the agent is an extraordinary one because she is known as an incredible agent in her office. Besides, she has been succeeded in discovering many cases that she has involved. In the case of this murder, Scott Illeana has almost been close to the figuring out the suspect. The way she finds her the suspect is by following the way of thinking of the suspect from the clues that she figures. Pretending to be the suspect, and following all things, in the form of clues, that she has collected, the agent comes into a conclusion.

The conclusion is that the son of a mother who has been neglected for so many years during his child age is the suspect. The agent does not realize that the man who had sex with her is the suspect. She only comes into a conclusion that there is a blank-space of the murder’s soul. He tries to take the victims’ life and he takes that kind of life as his own. As soon as after that, the murder continues that life as if nothing happens. It seems like a natural life but the point is that the murder run his life in the frame of his victims’ life. He does not want to live his own life.

What makes a person turns into a psychopath in this movie?

Obviously, there are many theories dealing with psychopathology in someone’s life. A major theory of this point is the theory proposed by Sigmund Freud. It is the psychoanalysis. However, this theory has explained a complicated development of human psychological, biological and emotional aspect. In this movie, it can be argued that the theory of psychoanalysis is relevant enough because the James character shows an under-pressure person who has lived his life with an ‘as if mode’. This mode means James takes someone’s life to be his to avoid himself from having and living his life by killing the someone, of the victims.

If it is referred to the earlier stage of James life, it is clear that James is actually a good and nice boy as the others. The situation in his life has made him turns into somebody else. His mother always put his brother as a golden boy in the family. And, as it is seen in the movie, this has made James feels jealous. This kind of feeling is always pressed. Finally, he has grown up another side of his consciousness in his mind. Because James sees that kind of image all the days during his child stage, he tries to hide himself away together with his jealous feeling, that at the end, it turns into a feeling of hate. This transformation means the changing of consciousness into unconscious. When the pressed thing comes again into the conscious level, what James has in his mind is only the need of taking someone’s life that he sees as the same as his brother, a lucky one. This is so because as the story told, James is the murder of his own brother, his first psychopathic victim.

Furthermore, according to Freud’s idea that the above process, which is from conscious to unconscious, is called repression. When all things in the unconscious appear in conscious, it is called as trauma. (Read, Bertens, K. 2006; 265). Repression is defined as the psychic process where a non-desired thought is put away from the conscious, and then it goes into the unconscious mind. In the case of James as the psychopathic murder, it can be seen that he has faced his mother. This situation is pressed into his unconscious mind. When he has grown up, and at an immediate moment he sees the other person with a good life, he is willing to take that person as his victim. The same motive continues again. As the same as the previous victim, James then runs his life in his victim’s way of life.

Can the agent Scott capture the psychopath and put him into the jail?

An interesting side of this movie is that the story presents the existence of the murder in a puzzle way. The viewers may not be easy to predict who the suspect really is. This is due to a psychopath, as the same in the real-life; he may have as good intelligence as the other people. As it can be seen in the Taking Lives, a surprise thing to see is when the agent has had a sex with the suspect. The agent does not completely notice that the man has sex with her is the murder. She only recognizes the man as the witness, or as a key to the real suspect. When the FBI has stated that they have the real murder, the mother who is seeking for his son, said that the man in the room is not his son. It surprises the agent Scott. Indirectly, she sees James kills the mother who is supposed to be his mother in a lift.

When the movie has reached the end, the viewers may still wonder why the agent Scott Illeana has been fired from her job as an FBI agent. She moves to a down town in the northern America. In an old and lonely house, she continues her life as a usual woman. The different thing is that in this stage, the agent is pregnant. Again, the murder shows up in the house. In an uncommon conversation, James sees that the woman he had sex with is pregnant; he thinks that the baby in hers is his too. It is especially when he knows that the baby is a twin, he eagerly wants to kill her and the babies. In this scene, there is a terse quarreling between James and the agent Scott. As a viewer, I thought that the agent has been died because James has finally hit her with a knife. Nevertheless, in fact, she is still alive. Not in a minute, James is hit by the agent with a big and sharp scissor. And finally, he, as the suspect and murder, is died in the hand of a woman that he has called ‘honey’.

If you would like to purchase the movie, you can go clicking this link –> Taking Lives.

Author: Syayid

Syayid Sandi Sukandi is a person who is just like you. He loves to meet new people. He likes to learn new things and opens his horizon to understand how this world works. He is happy to help you when he can. His personal blog is Sparkling Silent Silhouette (https://www.syayidss.com/). He can be contacted at e-mails: syayid@gmail.com or said_sandi@hotmail.com. He has a YouTube channel @Mr.Syayid's Corner. He is active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You may follow and subscribe to his creativity and works there. Enjoy different perspective and insightful ideas!

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