1 item from 1997
12 September 1997 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Based on the nail-biter best seller of the same name by James Patterson, "Kiss the Girls" is a perfectly workable psychological thriller, elevated above its standard-issue trappings by slick production values and strong performances from leads Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.
Centering on a police detective's efforts to track down a serial kidnapper-killer, the picture keeps graphic sensationalism to an admirable minimum but ultimately lacks the compelling lure of a "Seven" (not to mention a Brad Pitt on the marquee) and, as a result, will likely translate into moderate rather than killer business.
The always-effective Freeman once again applies his inimitable brand of quiet compassion to the role of Dr. Alex Cross, a Washington forensic psychologist who ventures out of his jurisdiction when his niece turns up missing during what appears to be a series of related kidnappings.
While his presence in Durham, N.C., draws begrudging cooperation from the locals (Cary Elwes, Alex McArthur) working the investigation, Cross gets some valuable assistance from Kate McTiernan (Judd), a strong-willed doctor, who, for reasons left respectfully unexplained here, is able to provide insights into the case.
Together, they chase down the clues that will hopefully lead them to their psycho Casanova before he strikes again, but not before the film's obligatory twists and turns render further plot description impractical.
Suffice it to say that the big surprise ending, as adapted by screenwriter David Klass, isn't really all that much of a surprise, nor is the picture as a whole quite the involving shocker it aspires to be.
The cast is certainly up to the challenge. Freeman's committed honesty makes his character's motivations crystal clear; while Judd, as the kickboxing physician, combines determination and vulnerability to convincing effect. The role is one of her strongest.
Director Gary Fleder ("Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead") puts a strong stylistic imprint on the production. Occasionally, however, the artistic flourishes create more distraction than enhancement.
Elsewhere, Aaron Schneider's cinematography is solid, William Anderson's editing is taut and composer Mark Isham's densely atmospheric score is perfectly suited to the on-screen mood.
Production designer Nelson Coates and costume designer Abigail Murray collaborate on a gothic kind of Marquis de Sade-meets-Victoria's Secret look for the kidnapper's lair that borders on the unintentionally ridiculous.
KISS THE GIRLS
in association with Rysher Entertainment
Director Gary Fleder
Producers David Brown and Joe Wizan
Screenwriter David Klass
Based on the novel by James B. Patterson
Executive producer C.O. Erickson
Director of photography Aaron Schneider
Production designer Nelson Coates
Editor William Anderson
Costume designer Abigail Murray
Music Mark Isham
Alex Cross Morgan Freeman
Kate McTiernan Ashley Judd
Chief Hatfield Brian Cox
Wick Sachs William Converse-Roberts
Nick Ruskin Cary Elwes
Dr. Will Rudolph Tony Goldwyn
Seth Samuel Richard T. Jones
Davey Sikes Alex McArthur
Running time -- 117 minutes
MPAA rating: R
1 item from 1997
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