Besides the Theatrical version (R-Rated) also an Unrated Director’s Cut of "Taking Lives" was released in the USA. In two scenes nudity was cut out the R-Rated version and 1-2 violence cuts were made, as well. In the Director’s Cut the cut scenes were reinserted and some additional plot scenes were added. The overall impression of the Director’s Cuts might be slightly better but those who did not like the movie in the first place will not have to buy this one neither.
Unfortunately, both versions contain alternative footage in so many scenes that it is impossible to name the exact number of cuts.
Recuts, meaning scenes which are present in both versions but are relocated at another part of the movie, are only listed in a small amount.
The pictures have been brightened.
Comparison between the Theatrical version (R-Rated) and the Director’s Cut on the Unrated US-DVD
0.23.32 – new scene:
Illeana Scott (Angelina Jolie) is sitting at a crime scene which is just being cleared. She is swinging back and forth fast and apathetically watching some hardly recognizable pictures of the the serial killer's victims. Suddenly a little girl passes with her mother. When the girls sees the pictures Illeana closes the folder quickly.
Scene change. Illeana visits the police inspector at night. He is surprised that she is not sleeping but she asks him if she can speak to him for a moment. Afterwards they walk down a street and talk about the case. Illeana says that it does not make sense since there were two guards standing near the crime scene. The police inspector says that he might have wanted the bodies to be found quickly. Illeana agrees but asks why and points out that this does not make any sense because he neither hunts the police nor has he left a „Fuck You“-message to them. Stressed out she sits down on a curb and covers her ears. After a while the police man says that the killer might get careless after that. She responds: „We know that we are close to him...and he knows that, too.“
After a short conversation the scene follows which shows the reporter walking next to the police inspector questioning him which is also in the Theatrical version.
altogether 2 min. 12.3 sec. (132.3 sec.)
0.33.13 – extended scene
The conversation between Illeana and Costa (Ethan Hawke) in the bar is a little longer in the Director’s Cut:
Illeana asks him when he started with the art-dealing. He explains her that he started directly after school. Then he tells her about when he went to Thailand and met and old painter who painted several fascinating pictures. This painter gave him some of his pictures which he took back to America. There he sold them for few money which he sent to the man for whom it was a fortune. After that he started the art-dealing. Illeana laughs and says: „That is very nice“.
Because of the newly inserted footage a short shot of Illeana was removed from the Director’s Cut. (59 frames = 2.36 sec.)
0.45.37 – extended scene
The briefing in the police headquarter in which Illeana explains that the culprit wants to adopt other lives was slightly extended in the Director’s Cut:
After Ileana said that the mother has clearly privileged the twin brother she adds that the brother died in an accident and that the mother now thinks that the brother (=the culprit) has something to do with it. That is why she hates him.
In the Director’s Cut some frames of the scheme are missing in which the several identities respectively victims of the culprit are listed chronologically.
1.6 sec. in the Director’s Cut
In the Director’s Cut the last short scenes of the briefing are missing. The police inspector says: „Alright folks. The message is clear, isn't it? He is out there looking for his next victim“. – Then he thanks Illeana.
8.44 sec. in the Director’s Cut
0.48.59 – extended scene
The scene of Illeana driving home Costa was extended in the Director’s Cut after the short conversation about her job:
Costa asks her if she sees that (her job) as some kind of punishment. But she says that it is not punishment but more a necessity.
(More in the next cut.)
0.48.59 – Alternative shots
Because of the extended scene (conversation in the car / last cut), which is also continued (see next cut) the Director’s Cut also uses slightly different footage and one shot was completely deleted. Affected is the part where Illeana parks the car in front of Costa's apartment.
0.49.11 – extended scene
After Illeana has parked the car in front of Costa's apartment the extended scene (the cut before last) is being continued:
He looks at her curious and a little appalled. Then he asks her being a bit shocked what forces her (to continue her job). Illeana does not answer at first so he asks her again. Being a little hard-pressed she tells him the story: When she was 12 she heard a noise down in the kitchen. She went down and saw a young man in the living room who started walking towards her immediately. She grabbed a knife and killed him with it. She continues by telling that the boy probably wanted to steel the Television set and that he was only 16 years old but she killed him and that is what is forcing her.
In the scene in which the police try to use Costa as a decoy in order to catch the killer two small shots were deleted in the Director’s Cut:
After Costa received the message that he is supposed to go to the toilet a shot of him sitting on a bar stool is missing. Afterwards the scene changes to Illeana and the police chief in the car receiving the message that the contact to Costa is lost because there are too many interferences in the club. What is also missing in the DC is Costa talking into his microphone fearfully: „I mean I...I go there, right?“.
12.56 sec. in the Director’s Cut
1.06.13 – extended alternative scene
After Costa has deliberately caused an accident with the assumed killer and Illeana gets out of the car the Director’s Cut uses an alternative of Illeana getting out of the car and looking at the panic Costa. – The shot in the Director’s Cut is almost completely identical and can only be identified because of a car driving by in the background that does not appear in the Theatrical version. However, the shot in the Director’s Cut is noticeably longer since the camera keeps turning around Illeana longer.
Theatrical version: 1.36 sec.
Director’s Cut: 4.38 sec.
Difference: 3.02 sec.
0.06.16 – Extended alternative scene / possibly cut for censorship
When Costa panically removes the weapon from the car with the dead assumed killer both versions use alternative footage.
After Costa has uneasily removed the weapon from the car he shoots repeatedly at the car and the already dead assumed killer. – Several shots
Again it can hardly be noticed that this is an alternative shot. In the Theatrical version Costa removes the weapon from the car, too, but here he does not shoot. In the Director’s Cut an alternative shot has been added in which he removes the weapon and starts shooting.
Here, Costa only removes the weapon from the car. Afterwards, we see Illeana rushing by and immediately pulling her service weapon.
Note: The Director’s Cut profits from adding the alternative scene because it seems a little weired in the Theatrical version when Illeana runs towards Costa with her weapon and orders him with full force to put down his gun. In Director’s Cut, however, this makes a lot more sense since he has wildly shot at the killer, before.
That the scene had to be removed for the R-Rating in the USA is not impossible but at least doubtful since the bullet wounds are hardly visible and the scene contains hardly any graphical violence.
1.06.19 – Alternative shots
When Illeana runs towards Costa with her weapon pulled both versions were almost completely recut in the single shots. The Director’s Cut uses alternative footage at some occasions. This can only be described frame by frame. The identical scenes are identified by a number in order to clarify the different order. Alternative footage will be pointed out.
The erotic scene
In two shots, Costa walks towards Illeana slightly longer.
Costa walks towards Illeana and pushes her to the wall (one new shot + the following shot is longer in the beginning)
They longer look in each other's eyes aroused before Costa caresses Illeana's chin.
Costa touches Illeana's chin longer, she breathes aroused. Afterwards Costa approaches her face longer...
After Costa has opened Illeana's blouse the shot of the now topless Illeana is longer in the Unrated version.
Costa caresses Illeana's waist, then the camera pans upwards. During that Illeana's breasts are visible. Afterwards, they kiss each other tenderly.
The first shot of Costa lifting Illeana on the wall and their beginning intercourse (although Costa never opens his fly), was drastically shortened.
1.09.21 – Alternative shots
When Costa lifts Illeana on the little dresser alternative footage has been used in both versions. Afterwards the Director’s Cut contains two longer shots, both missing in the Theatrical version.
Costa puts Illeana on the dresser. When she touches the glasses he sweeps them all down on the floor to make some more space. Things are noticeably heavier in the Director’s Cut.
3 shots = 30.95 sec.
Costa puts Illeana on the dresser. She touches the glasses behind her but none of it tumbles down. They rock back and forth a little.
1 shot = 6,92 Sec.
Therefore the Director’s Cut is 24.03 sec longer.
1.09.36 – Alternative shot
Again, after Costa has touched Illeana's breast a little bit of alternative footage has been used:
In the Director’s Cut the shot remains and the scenery gets heavier and heavier. Costa's hand moves from her chest to her mouth and she sucks his finger inordinately, afterwards, they kiss each other heavily.
In the Theatrical version, however, this shot is cut away from. Instead we see a close up of them kissing more gently.
Therefore the Director’s Cut is 4.97 sec longer.
The end of the erotic scene was completely removed for the Theatrical version. After Costa has lifted Illeana and carries her out of the frame the Director’s Cut does not immediately show the pictures of the several victims. Here, the following happens:
The shot changes. Costa carries Illeana to the bed and drops her on it just to get on top her, right again. He grips his pants and opens his fly (finally...). During that Illeana looks at the ceiling where we can see all the pictures of the dead victims. When Costa notices her looking he also looks at the ceiling and sees the pictures. They kiss each other.
At the end of the love scene the Theatrical version only contains the panning shot across the pictures on the ceiling, without any context. However, this is an alternative panning shot which shows the same pictures but in another direction. 84 Frames = 3.36 sec.)
DC: 24.69 sec. (Incl. panning shot across the pictures)
Costa murders his mother
1.15.06 – Alternative shot / censorship cut
Now, the Unrated version gets noticeably harder in comparison to the Theatrical version: When the doors of the elevator open in front of Illeana and she sees Costa who has just killed his mother both versions use completely different footage. This affects the crime, Costa and the body as well as the fast cuts to Illeana. For evaluation have a look at the note beneath the pictures of the Theatrical version
In the Director’s Cut Illeana looks at the lower part of the dead woman, first. The camera pans across the body to Costa. He is just making the final cut and completely separates the head from the body and then slightly lifts it. Then several cuts to the very threatening Costa (way scarier than the Theatrical version) and a couple of inserts of Illeana who seems to be stunned. When the doors of the elevator close Costa looks sniveling because he is sorry that Illeana had to watch this.
The Theatrical version is way more harmless, more illogical and less thrilling. Illeana looks in the elevator and sees the dead woman who has obviously received a head shot. Behind her sits the crying Costa who seems like a child. Then about as much cuts to the desperate Costa the stunned Illeana and one to the dead woman. When the doors close Costa runs towards Illeana but it is too late.
Therefore the Director’s Cut is 4.97 sec longer.
Note: At least here the Director’s Cut is clearly superior to the Theatrical version. And that is not necessarily because of its additional hardness. First of all there is logic: Why is the woman lying on the ground with a head shot in the Theatrical version? Costa did not carry a weapon. Of course, he could have hidden it in his underpants. Also, the mysterious red dot on his mother's forehead could be something else than a head shot. But that does not change the fact that the Theatrical version simply seems less convincing since all of these interpretations are questionable. And that can also be noticed when watching the movie for the first time.
Also the Director’s Cut is a lot more thrilling and keeps the continuity of Costa's character: Throughout the whole movie Costa is cool and calculating for example he thoroughly plans the staging with the assumed killer as an alibi and at the end of the movie he is the cold villain, again, when he rams the scissors in Illeana's stomach. The Theatrical version, however, interrupts this continuity with its version of this scene. Here, all of a sudden, Costa is a child. He is seesawing up and down and even after several murders he cannot believe what he has just done. And then he runs to the closing door just like he wanted to explain the whole thing to Illeana with the words: „It's not what it looks like“.
At least the Director’s Cut does not make this mistake. Here, Costa looks just nasty. Here, he obviously only regrets that Illeana had to catch him in the act and there is no shadow of a doubt in his mimic. And with the exact same brutality as in the previous murders he separates the head and seems like a lunatic.
1.17.14 – Alternative shots
When the hasty policeman slaps Illeana both versions use slightly different footage. All described shots were changed, even if they seem alike (except the slapping).
Therefore the Director’s Cut is 3.09 sec longer.
1.19.09 – Alternative shots
When Costa calls Illeana from the train the two versions use widely alternative footage, again. At the beginning the cuts and the order are too different to meaningfully give an exact description. Because of that only changes with regard to content will be mentioned. The conversation between the two of them almost exactly kept its content despite of the many little and insignificant changes, except for one small thing at the beginning of the conversation which was removed from the Director’s Cut. Here, the scene is missing in which Illeana asks Costa if this was Martin speaking. After that he asks her if provoking the killer was something that is taught at the FBI .
Length of the conversation in the Director’s Cut: 82.92 sec.
Length of the conversation in the Theatrical version: 94.36 sec.
Difference: 11.44 sec.
The scene in which the police-macho comes to Illeana and says to her with a remorseful look: „It was the first time I hit a woman“ was removed from the Director’s Cut. Then she says: „Kill him!“.
In the Director’s Cut it looks like he was angrily looking at her, again, to express his disrespect.
Still, slightly different material was used in each version.
Note: It is good that this wannabe cool scene was removed from the Director’s Cut.
Length of the scene in the Director’s Cut: 8.55 sec.
Length of the scene in the Theatrical version: 12.16 sec.
Difference: 3.61 sec.
The police tries to catch Costa at the station
Here, a comparison in pictures would be a little difficult. The reason is: in the Theatrical version the police searches the station first and then follows the scene of Illeana entering her apartment and slowly realizing the truth about Costa (demonstrated through explaining flash backs). In the Director’s Cut it is the other way around. Here, Illeana enters her apartment etc. first, then we see the scene of the police searching for Costa at the station. However, in the Unrated version several inserts of Illeana sitting naked in her bathroom and washing herself were added. That is the reason for the following cut descriptions. Let's go:
While lots of police men are reaching the station the Director’s Cut cuts to Illeana who is sitting in a shower „washing off Costa“ who she had intercourse with before.
Because of the additional scene another shot of police cars stopping in front of the station was removed from the DC. (1.32 sec.)
Again Illeana thoroughly cleaning herself from Costa with a cloth.
Another cut to Illeana sitting in the corner with the cloth, it is located when the captain and the police-macho are crossing the hall and hectically checking all sorts of people. – 2 shots of Illeana. One of her washing her neck and one of her wiping her mouth.
Because of the added scenes some frames of the police men running through the crowd are missing in the Director’s Cut. (16 frames)
Another cut to Illeana. She clenches her teeth in disgust and washes harder with the sponge. – 3 shots
Again, the police men's search in the station is interrupted with an insert of Illeana. – She heavily uses the sponge on her shoulder, her inner thighs and her neck. – 3 shots
And once again, we cut to Illeana clenching her teeth in disgust and desperately punching a wall.
And for the last time we cut to Illeana after the police-macho has screamed in anger at the station. She is washing herself with the cloth, again. Then we change into a wide shot and see Illeana crying and naked sitting in the corner next to a toilet.
Illeana realizes Costa's intrigues in her apartment
Just now the Theatrical version shows the scene in which Illeana realizes Costa's intrigues. In Director’s Cut we saw this before. But also this scene contains an additional shot in the DC:
While Illeana makes sense of the crimes the Unrated version shows her taking a gun out of her bag.