Detecting an intelligent thrill in Kiss the Girls
"Killing is not his ulterior motive this guy is a collector." Dr. Cross attempts to define the man who abducts young women and holds them captive as love slaves. This is not your typical movie serial killer and not your typical serial killer movie.
Kiss the Girls is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by James Patterson and stars Morgan Freeman (Seven) as Dr. Alex Cross, a forensic psychologist working for the Washington D.C. police department. Cross is first introduced when he attempts to negotiate with a suicidal woman. This scene provides the viewer with an insight into Cross' methods and character. When asked what his job is, Cross replies "I determine the hows and whys." By providing the audience with a characterization of the lead role, this film is already a step above most generic "thrillers." Cross is lured to Durham, North Carolina (where the bulk of the film takes place) by news that his niece has been missing for four days.
Upon arrival in Durham at the police station, he discovers a wall of pictures dedicated to the missing women. All are young and attractive, each with a special talent his niece plays the violin. It is suspected that all the girls have been abducted by the same man, who calls himself "Casanova," the great lover. Soon after his arrival at the station, a third body is found and Cross must go to the scene not knowing whether or not it is his niece. At this point we go deeper into Cross's character and empathize with the personal nature of this case for him.
It is also at this point that the true stars of the film are unmasked the cinematography and the editing. Never before in a film of this genre have these two elements displayed so much personal emotion in the characters faces and created so much suspense for the viewer.
Ashley Judd (A Time to Kill) co-stars as Dr. Kate McTiernan, an intern who is kidnapped from her isolated home by "Casanova" and held captive. Kate manages to escape and proceeds to help Cross track down the killer.
Morgan Freeman plays a similar role to that of the detective hunting a serial killer in 1995's Seven. No other actor can portray such calm intelligence and wisdom like Freeman can and his stoic presence lends credibility to every scene. He again delivers a solid performance in his role as both an uncle trying to find his niece and a cop trying to find a killer.
Ashley Judd, however, is by no means overshadowed as the victim. She gives strength to the typical tortured victim (even though the film maker had to point this out to us by making her a kick boxer,) and by so doing, Kiss the Girls avoids another tired stereotype.
There are the usual twists and turns, but a noticeable and pleasing lack of red herrings to distract the viewer from the identity of the killer. The audience must solve the case along with Cross he knows what the viewers know. This approach to solving a case for the viewer is much more enjoyable, because we spend less time trying to find the killer amongst the five or six identified villains and more time listening and thinking along with the characters. The film is not trying to fool us, but merely giving us an accurate (or as accurate as two hours can provide) glimpse into the roles of the killer, the hunter and the hunted.