Forensic psychologist Alex Cross travels to North Carolina and teams with escaped kidnap victim Kate McTiernan to hunt down "Casanova," a serial killer who abducts strong-willed women and forces them to submit to his demands. The trail leads to Los Angeles, where the duo discovers that the psychopath may not be working alone.
_**Starts good and becomes increasingly farfetched**_ A serial killer is loose in Durham, North Carolina, who’s actually a serial collector of young women. Forensic psychologist Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) ventures down from D.C. to assist in the investigation since his niece is one of the victims. He eventually teams-up with a surgeon who escaped the perpetrator’s lair (Ashley Judd). Cary Elwes and Tony Goldwyn are also on hand. “Kiss the Girls” (1997) is a detective thriller in the mold of “Silence of the Lambs” (1991) with some “Se7en” (1995) and a dash of “Scream” (1996), but less gruesome and therefore presumably more palatable to a larger audience. What I appreciate most about this flick is the lush nighttime sylvan cinematography. The cast is good as well. The first half is great for this genre, but the story gets progressively implausible from there with a muddled midsection. And then there’s the ‘big reveal’ at the end, which was predictable from the get-go. At the end of the day “Kiss the Girls” is worthwhile if you like detective thrillers and the cast, but be prepared for a wildly unrealistic tale. The sequel, “Along Came a Spider” (2001), had the same problem where the ‘big reveal’ is even more eye-rolling. The film runs 1 hour, 55 minutes, and was shot in North Carolina and Southern Cal. GRADE: C
Morgan Freeman is quite effective here in this adaptation of James Patterson's novel about the kidnap of the niece of this police psychologist/detective. Racing to her North Carolina school, "Cross" discovers pretty quickly that she is likely to be the latest in a line of youngsters abused and killed at the hands of the so-called "Casanova"! Fortunately, one of his would be victims - "Kate" (Ashley Judd) - manages to escape her captivity, and with "Cross" and time very much against them, tries to track down this murderer. It stays fairly faithful to the book and that's maybe why it doesn't quite work. The narrative is really rather dry, the dialogue all a bit too wordy and though the subject matter is quite disturbing, there isn't a great deal of menace on show for us here. "Cross" is just too clever; the clues too obscure for us but childsplay for him, and after a while that starts to grate a little. The best examples of this genre allow the audience to participate in the manhunt along with the characters. Not so much here. Freeman owns the screen, as usual, and Judd is perfectly acceptable as his feisty and determined sidekick as we head to a denouement that has just enough jeopardy to keep it interesting. There are loads of "Alex Cross" books, so I would expect more from this character - I hope this is but a bedrock for a darker and more complex sequel.