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Kiss the Girls

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All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Kiss the Girls

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd
Director: Gary Felder
Rated: R
RunTime: 17 Minutes
Release Date: October 1997
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller


*Also starring: Cary Elwes, Alex McArthur, Tony Goldwyn, Jay O. Sanders



Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

Handsome, smooth, clean-cut, professional, respected guys do not rape, molest, or otherwise harass women. They can get all the attractive women they want by perfectly legitimate means. Right? Wrong, of course. "Kiss the Girls" shows that idea for the mere myth that it is. Why would a good-looking man who plays by society's rules in every other way--getting the necessary training to enter a prestigious field, dressing smartly, patronizing the right places--want to persecute those whom they can easily attract? To demean them. Theories abound as to why they have this need, but according to the killer in David Klass's adaptation of James Patterson's novel directed by Gary Fleder, the craving is primal. Men may hide the fancy from themselves, but deep down it's there.

With such reasoning, perpetrators of heinous crimes try to gain just a little sympathy from the audience. In "The Peacemaker," Dusan Gavrich (Marcel Iures) justifies the blowing up of the U.N. by the pain he feels when he sees his daughter gunned down in his native Bosnia, a crime he blames on the western powers. In "Air Force One" Ivan (Gary Oldman) condemns the U.S. for the deaths of 100,000 Iraquis in the Gulf War, giving him the excuse he needs to hold the president of the U.S. hostage. In "Kiss the Girls," a kidnapper feels the need to bring strong, professional women down to size, and so he "collects" people of talent, including a talented violinist and an intern in a Durham, North Carolina hospital. Unfortunately for him the violinist is the niece of a crack D.C.P.D. forensic psychologist, Dr. Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) and the doctor, Kate McTiernan (Ashley Judd) is a willful kick-boxer who does not take victimization lying down.

"Kiss the Girls" is a police drama which at times, particularly in a climactic scene, can hold the audience at tight rein in some edge-of-the-seat theatrics, as a psychotic killer and tormenter uses his considerable wiles to destroy the cunning of a master at penetrating the criminal mind. The story begins by establishing Dr. Cross's skills, as he talks a woman, who has just murdered her husband, into handing over a gun which she has virtually swallowed, safety off and ready for action. Cross, a ultra-smooth, best-selling author who drives a Porsche, takes a personal interest in a case when his neice Naomi Cross (Gina Ravera) si reported missing from her Durham college campus. The local police suspect that she is one of eight women who have vanished, two of whom have been been found tied with sophisticated knots to trees in a woodland, sexually violated. The Durham police assigned to the case Nick Ruskin (Cary Elwes) and Sikes (Alex McArthur), report that the killer is known to his victims as Casanova.

The situation takes a new turn when Kate is abducted from her isolated home and taken to a hidden cave in the woods, placed in a room by her masked captor and told not to try escape or communciation with the other women he is holding.

The plot thickens when it is discovered that this killer seems to be bi-coastal, committing crimes in Los Angeles as well as North CArolina, a situation which had not occurred in the U.S. since the 1920s. At one point, however, we see the hands of the criminal pecking out commands on the internet, transmitting a picture of one of his victims and receiving an answer from yet another person who feels that Kate is a very good specimen indeed.

"Kiss the Girls" takes internet pornography several steps beyond the pale as two offenders seem to be comparing their activities. They share a common interest in collecting harems of women in much the way a group of nerds might discuss their accumulation of geckoes on web sites.

"Kiss the Girls" is elevated above the usual police drama by the class which Morgan Freedom affords it. As a forensic psychologist he loses his temper only once--when a suspect seems to confess to the crime and taunts him about his niece. His presence reminds us immediately of his role in "Seven," which this film seems to use as a rough model, which features Freeman pursuing a weirdo who is out to punish perpetrators of the seven deadly sins. Like that 1995 work, "Kiss the Girls" is well crafted, intelligently written, well acted and unsettling, wallowing in the depths of human depravity and at times putting the audience in the place of voyeurs to perverted activities. Ashley Judd is looking good here: pity that she takes a back seat for a good part of the ride, putting her talent at kick-boxing to practical use only toward the conclusion. While "Kiss the Girls" is neither as gory as "Seven" nor as intense as another fine feature about serial killers, "The Silence of the Lambs," it forces us to know a bit more about sick minds than we may wish to.

Copyright 1997 Harvey Karten

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