Alex Cross is a psychologist/cop who specializes in understanding the criminal mind. When his niece is captured by a serial killer whose motives may not exactly be what they seem, it’s up to Alex to figure out his next move. Can he stop the killer and rescue his niece before it’s too late? Find out in… Kiss the Girls.
How?! Alex Cross, D.C. detective extraordinaire and part-time psychologist is the master of getting into the mind of a criminal. When he finds out that his niece has gone missing, along with a number of girls in the Durham, NC area, he will stop at nothing to solve the crime. He goes down there and is like “guess what, I’m now a part of this,” and the cops there are like “well yeah, duh, you’re Alex Cross, welcome aboard.” He gets all up in that investigation and things get pretty thrilling/chilling when the kidnapper, calling himself Cassanova, appears to communicate with Cross directly. When Dr. Kate McTiernan is kidnapped and subsequently escapes it becomes clear that the killer is collecting talented women and is keeping them alive as part of a fantasy harem he is building. From the drugs used on Kate they track down a doctor in LA that must be involved. Their sting goes disastrously awry, though, and things are looking pretty dire and the audience is like “how will Alex Cross recover?” but we all know how: he’s Alex Cross! He swiftly uses his beautiful mind to track down the general area of Casanova’s hideout and when he hears a gunshot is able to find and free the missing girls. The LA doctor, known as The Gentleman Caller, is killed, but Casanova escapes. While Cross is just chilling out waiting for a dinner date with Kate he realizes that Casanova is in fact one of the police officers working the case! He rushes to Kate’s house to find her having handcuffed Casanova to the stove and him threatening to blow the house up in a gas explosion. Cross again breaks out that gorgeous mind and shoots Casanova through a carton of milk, thus killing him and preventing the explosion. THE END. Big Question: This is just good, right?
Why?! Cross’ motivation is personal, as his niece is one of the kidnapped women. No need to go into more detail than that really. For Casanova and The Gentleman Caller, they get pretty deep into their motivations. Casanova considers himself a great lover and kidnaps and drugs talented women for his “harem” to live out his fantasy that he is irresistible and a man of great power. The Gentleman Caller is just a sadist really… so not as much thought for his character I guess.
Who?! Interesting tidbit that Anna Maria Horsford went uncredited in the role of Vicki (Alex’s sister) in this film, but then reprised her role in Along Came a Spider and was credited in that. She basically had the same amount of screentime in each. Curious. Billy Blanks also made an appearance as Ashley Judd’s kickboxing instructor. He’s, of course, the inventor of Tae Bo.
What?! Sometimes when you’re watching a film that’s set in a particular place (especially when there is a good chance they actually filmed on location) you’ll see some funny product placement specific to the area. I always like to see local beers play a role in films. Here Alex Cross shoots Casanova in the climactic final scene through a Maola milk carton. You gotta run with that Maolo, get on the “Alex Cross’ Milk of Choice” ad campaign.
Where?! The beginning of the film takes place in D.C. and there is a small part in California, but otherwise all the action is in Durham, NC. Same as in the book. Interestingly there is a reason it does. Because of the Research Triangle in the area I think they were going for the idea that it would be a perfect place to pick up super talented women in a relatively small area. B+.
When?! I think this likely takes place in either April or May ‘96. They have a big wall that charts the disappearances of the girls. To the left is a series of calenders for January-May of 1996. Presumably this is the range over which the girls were kidnapped. Considering Alex Cross’ niece had just been the latest victim you presume that it’s somewhere near the end of that range. Although, weird that it seems so chilly in NC that time of year. C+.
I’ve realized that I have a soft spot for thrillers. Last year I raved about Mercury Rising and now I have to say… Kiss the Girls is closer to being just fine to being BMT. I thought Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd were excellent. In particular I thought Judd should have been a bigger star from what I saw in this film. Sad given what has been revealed about that in recent years. The thriller itself had enough thrills and chills for me and I think its biggest error was being way too predictable and stumbling over some lazy red herrings. I can’t really tell whose fault that might have been. The director I guess, but it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the film. So I give it the patented BMT hand heart of approval… you know, the classic rating system that fans of BMT have come to know and love. And for those that are wondering, yes I did think through the other hand symbols we’d have as part of the system. Turn that hand heart upside down and it turns into a butt for our “poo in the face” rating. For fun BMT films? Turn your hands into goggles through which we are watching the films in amazement. Everything we make up for BMT is the lamest possible thing and I’m very proud of this. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! If I made this film I would have changed the name to Smooch the Girls. ‘Cause Casanova be smooching. Let’s get into it!
P’s View on the Preview – I had read this book ages ago after we watched Alex Cross. Out of the two books I read this is by far the most adaptable, although it is still rather disturbing. I will say, I very much enjoy serial killer fiction, and this is very much that. The book wasn’t the greatest thing I’ve ever read, but the subject was definitely up my alley. I was excited to see Morgan Freeman in the role as well. What were my expectations? I expected it to just be kind of confusing. Those are pretty common issues for thrillers, and I can very much imagine that being the issue since, honestly, I found the book pretty confusing.
The Good – I actually liked this film to be honest. We’ll get to some of the issues, but Ashley Judd must have been a revelation in the late 90’s. She is so good in the film, and it is pretty crazy the film got such bad reviews when the main two actors are so good. I thought the setting was cool, a very good use of the Research Triangle of North Carolina. I’m glad they kept it there instead of trying to force it back to DC (which is where Cross tends to be based in the earlier novels). And it wasn’t nearly as confusing as I remembered the book being, because they resolve the Casanova / The Gentleman Caller confusion really quickly.
The Bad – They try and half-heartedly foist the actual twist from the book (in which the reader wonders right to the end which of the police detectives is in fact Casanova) into the film even though it is abundantly clear Carey Elwes is the only logical choice. The fact that the twist is so obvious is an issue, and one easily solved: just make the detective such a minor character you’d never think he’s the culprit. But nope, it’s the late-90s, so you have to get that big name for the bad guy. Dumb. The Gentleman Caller serial killer story is as bad as in the book. It is so unnecessary it kind of annoys you that they are drawing you away from Casanova who is the far better story of the two.
The BMT – Just because we are completing the Alex Cross franchise. That’s really the only real BMT cred its got. Otherwise it’ll end up being one of my favorite BMTs ever I suppose, just because of Judd’s performance which is genuinely quite good. Did it meet my expectations? No, but in a good way. This is a very good adaptation of a book that deals with difficult subject matter and is somewhat confusing as written. The film manages to deal with the difficult subject manner tactfully, and is considerably less confusing that the book I thought.
Roast-radamus – I think this is a decent Setting as a Character (Where?) for North Carolina, with the Research Triangle in particular playing a big role in the film. I’ll also give it a shoutout for Worst Twist (How?) for even daring the headfake the audience about Detective No Name being a legit potential Cassanova. And finally I think this has a decent shot at Good since at least I expect this will be my favorite thriller this year.
StreetCreditReport.com – I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising that this doesn’t have much cred in the media at the time. It isn’t that bad, and there wasn’t as much media coverage of bad films at the time. The cred comes from Alex Cross anyways, both the amazing Tyler Perry adaptation, and the fact that the books have been around for so long. It isn’t even close to the worst serial killer film. Hell, it’s the best Alex Cross film ever made!
You Just Got Schooled – As I said I read the book long ago, but I’ll try and remember as much as I can. I read Along Came a Spider first (I’ll save that review for that recap), but that really set up the character for me. This takes him out of DC and sends him to the South, and I remember being supremely confused about how they were splitting the story between Cassanova and The Gentleman Caller (the two killers in the film). They kind of wanted you to wonder if they were the same person, but it was obvious that they weren’t. And then the twist of which detective was the killer was weak because … I mean, who cares? So yeah, the book was a bit more confusing and leaned into the lame twists a bit too much. These types of books are also terribly written … as I said, somehow the film is loads better than the book. C+.