Kiss the Girls
- Morgan Freeman as Alex Cross
- Ashley Judd as Kate McTiernan
- Cary Elwes as Detective Nick Ruskin
- Alex McArthur as Detective Davey Sikes
- Bill Nunn as Detective John Sampson
Although it may be a somewhat by the numbers thriller that many will say doesn’t have a lot to set it apart from all the other thrillers churned out, Kiss the Girls at least benefits highly from atmosphere and credible work from Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd that elevates it a compelling and creepy watch.
Alex Cross is a brilliant forensic psychologist who also works as a detective in Washington, D.C. He is exceptional at getting inside the heads of serial killers, yet also manages to keep a distance of emotion so as not to be completely taken over by the horrors he uncovers. Yet things get personal when he receives news that his young niece Naomi has been kidnapped from her university campus. Travelling to North Carolina and meeting the detectives on the case, including the cynical Nick Ruskin, he is informed that they believe that Naomi is one of a number of women who have been kidnapped by a twisted predator known as Casanova. His most recent victim is a beautiful and strong-willed doctor by the name of Kate McTiernan ,who is imprisoned in a subterranean lair along with the other women. The talented Alex determines that the twisted Casanova is not a killer per say; he is a collector of strong-willed women. He only kills the women he captures if they break the rules of subservience that he cruelly enforces on them. This gives Alex and the other detectives hope that there is still time to unearth the location of the missing women. Meanwhile Kate, with her intelligence and physical prowess manages to overpower her captor and escape his lair, surviving by running to a nearby river and jumping in. When she is found, she is traumatised by her ordeal but still determined. Alex talks with her to try to get some picture of Casanova’s motives and whereabouts. In the beginning, Kate’s memory is hazy because of drugs she was injected with, but as her memory comes back, she begins to help Alex with the search to find his niece before it is too late. However, as the investigation continues, links begin to appear between Casanova and another serial killer in Los Angeles. Are the two killers colluding with each other? And can the strong Kate lead Alex in the right direction to discovering Casanova and his niece?
The direction provided by Gary Fleder is confident enough and helps compliment the style and pace of the movie. He may occasionally take a step in the wrong direction, such as when he delves into the possible connection between Casanova and another killer that doesn’t quite hold the impact of the main Casanova story. But his directing is credible and well sustained enough with dark terror and menace to kept you watching. There is some superb editing and cinematography that combine for a ghoulish effect, especially when in Casanova’s depraved and warped world in which he dominates the women he has abducted. With distorted angles and kinetic editing, Kiss the Girls gives a real sense of disorientation and Gothic atmosphere that is incredibly well done. The subterranean structure of Casanova’s lair is a suitably chilling and fear-inducing highlight of set design, rendered with a perverse and creepy impact. There are a few issues with some of the plot directions taken within the movie and a running time that is a bit too long. Some of the script could have done with a bit of tweaking as well, as some scenes go on for longer than required. Yet for all those flaws, Kiss the Girls manages to retain interest from the audience with its thrills and chills. A well-constructed score provides a creepy backdrop to Kiss the Girls and knows exactly when to build the necessary suspense and then ratchet it up a few notches.
In the role of Alex Cross, Morgan Freeman is as reliably excellent as he always is. There is a humility, grace and depth Freeman brings to the part, tempered with a brilliant mind of intelligence, quiet dignity and grave authority. I think it’s safe to say that his authoritative demeanor is perfect for the part and he is the only person I can think of to play the part of Alex Cross so well. Equally as impressive is Ashley Judd as the traumatised but incredibly brave Kate, who refuses to be seen as a victim because of her ordeal. Judd projects a tough steel and inner vulnerability to the character that we can relate to as her toughness acts as the shield to stop her completely going to pieces. Sterling support is provided by Cary Elwes and Alex McArthur as the wry detectives initially reluctant of Cross but needing him to help. Bill Nunn is also well cast as the best friend and confidante on the case.
So all in all, Kiss the Girls is not going to win any awards for inventiveness, but it remains a gripping thriller with spine-chilling visual style, ominous music and typically great performances from the two leads.