Kiss the Girls (1997)
Kiss the Girls (1997)

Genre: Mystery and Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 55 min.

Release Date: October 3rd, 1997 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Gary Fleder Actors: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Cary Elwes, Alex McArthur, Tony Goldwyn, Jay O. Sanders, Bill Nunn, Brian Cox, Richard T. Jones, Roma Maffia, Jeremy Piven, Gina Ravera, Tatyana Ali, Mena Suvari

 


 

I

n Washington, D.C., Detective Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) spends his free time coaching aspiring young boxers. But his job as a forensic psychologist whisks him away to a crime scene, where a dead body riddled with bullet holes tells the tale of a battered, suicidal woman in need of some calming negotiations. Cross’ day becomes even more stressful when he’s informed that his niece, Naomi (Gina Ravera), has been missing for four days, forcing him to journey to Durham, North Carolina, where an investigation is underway.

In the Research Triangle area, Cross is met with general disinterest and disrespect, but proceeds to visit another crime scene; this time, it involves the body of a female university student who was marched out into the woods and tied to a tree, left to die. It’s the work of a serial killer and rapist, calling himself Casanova, responsible for at least eight current kidnappings. His next target is a Carolina Regional Medical Center doctor and kickboxer-in-training named Kate McTiernan (Ashley Judd), whose strong-willed mindset enables her to break free of her eventual underground dungeon, flee into the woods, and dive into a waterfall. As the first successful escapee from Casanova, she’ll prove most useful in aiding the FBI and local police to track down the perpetrator – who leaves no evidence and seems to be operating in multiple states compulsively.

Of the films that attempt to emulate the dark, morbid, absorbing murder/mystery atmosphere of “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Kiss the Girls” is one of the better examples. The pacing is nicely handled, a few surprises make their way into the picture (the plot finds commendable ways to stretch out an apprehension), and the acting – especially by Judd – is top-notch. Comparably, the tension is genuine and the crimes frightening, though the editing occasionally opts for flashy style over fitting artistry.

Unfortunately, the storyline, based on the novel by James Patterson, involves a few too many annoyances. Alex makes quite a few disappointing mistakes; rather than focusing on the relationship between a twisted genius of a killer and a formidable detective, Cross is allowed to muck up the case repeatedly by withholding information from the FBI and by pursuing suspects on his own – with Kate in tow. Even the typical jurisdictional fumbling generally caused by belligerent opposing police forces is instigated instead by Cross, who continues to stay in good graces with his colleagues and is given a wide birth to operate, despite being responsible for the death of an officer and the killer’s getaway.

And the climax, which manages to be unpredictable (certainly for those not anticipating an extra twist), turns into something straight out of an action movie, betraying the more intelligent, craftier mood of the introduction. That gimmick takes away from the sleuthing as the audience is persuaded to solve the identity of the murderer instead of zeroing in on the cops as they work to catch the suspect. Still, “Kiss the Girls” possesses a level of entertainment that is slightly above average for police procedurals and crime drama.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10