Morgan Freeman is Alex Cross, FBI investigator extraordinaire, who throws himself headlong into a case involving missing young women once he learns his own niece is one of the missing.
There is one lead in North Carolina, a young woman who was abducted, but managed to escape her captor and live to tell the tale. She tells of other hostages still held prisoner, several of them, and creepy tales of the masked guy who ‘collects’ them and calls himself Casanova.
Amazingly since she escaped on foot, the whereabouts of the facility remain undisclosed. We can deliver packages by drone. We can eavesdrop a million phone calls at once. We can’t find a large underground cavern filled with women?
Anyway Cross consults with Kate (Ashley Judd), a strong willed young doctor who will not shy away as a victim, but defiantly taunts Casanova, almost daring him to try to come get her. Cross grills her for all the information he can, seemingly not asking “So you were found in a river. Did anyone think to go upstream and look around?” and he and Kate team up for the case, with only that tired ‘Well who else knows him better than I?’ rubbish.
Of course not only does Kate hang around as a consultant of sorts, but she manages to find herself intrinsically involved many, many times, often being the one who either gets out of trouble or advances the case, something the ‘genius mind’ of Alex Cross should be bothered by.
Anything with Morgan Freeman instantly demands our attention and earns the film believability that the material doesn’t really deserve. As these cases tend to do, things get complicated quickly, and for the most part the various twists and turns are reasonably well handled. Except for one key plot point…
…The investigators head to Los Angeles, (leading someone to surmise “You mean he’s bi-coastal?” because that’s how people talk). This might in itself be a twist, were it not for the fact that the film clumsily laid out the reason for this development twenty minutes ago. While Cross and Kate were wondering how the hell a guy could be up to mischief in two different time zones simultaneously, we were tipped off an merely waiting for them to catch up!
That mind-blowing blunder aside (oh and the whole ‘let’s not bother looking up-river thing), Kiss the Girls is entirely adequate yet unremarkable fare. The inoffensive film you can watch with your parents. The kind of film that pops up regularly filling dead TV time at 2 am.
It is a harmless film that wastes the talent and dignity of Morgan Freeman in a film with aspirations of being in the same league as Silence of the Lambs, but none of the ability.
And anyone who couldn’t see the identity of Casanova coming well in advance, hasn’t seen a film before.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. Georgie Porgie pudding and pie, Kiss the Girls and… disappointed both them and the audience.
Along Came a Spider arrived a few years after Kiss the Girls, though now over a decade later I struggle to tell them apart. Both have Morgan Freeman as Alex Cross, investigating the case of missing girls. Both have him teaming with a beautiful young woman. Both have a villain who should be laughably easy to track down.
Above all both are desperately middling fare.
On this occasion Cross arrives in the aftermath of an abduction having practically been personally invited by the abductor. In a bizarre turn of events it seems that not only did the kidnapper know the young girl, but he posed – under heavy makeup and an unwieldy disguise – as a teacher at her school. For Many Weeks. No-one, not kids, not other teachers, managed to learn of the ruse until it was too late… And women get angry if you don’t notice that they’ve cut a quarter inch off their hair!
So the kidnapper (Michael Wincott), having buzzed Cross first with the good news, continues to taunt Cross from afar, reminding him of his partner that died in the last confrontation between the two. Cross teams with the Secret Service Agent Jezzie (Monica Potter) to try to track down the kidnapper and the little girl, following clues, some of which seem to be left deliberately for them to find.
In other news the Secret Service employ people named Jezzie, then get surprised when they fuck up.
As with Kiss the Girls there is some unnecessarily complicated stuff, some fanciful developments and assumptions (surely kidnappers and criminals would be better using ‘Password1’ than the obvious and guessable stuff that they choose for their personal computer security?), and a conclusion that (if it had worked) would have been a one in a million chance of having everything pan out.
While Kiss the Girls used Silence of the Lambs as a reference point, this film uses the unlikely source material of Die Hard 3. Both films entirely fail both their inspirations and their viewers. At a pinch I would say Kiss the Girls is the better film, more apt though to say steer clear of both.
Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. Along Came a Spider and… scared the filmmakers so much that they messed up the film they were making.
Summing Up the Alex Cross Experience
There is a genuine place in life for a good novel. Something to wile away a few weekend hours, to fill a long plane trip, to provide a few hour’s distraction from the noise and hubbub of existence.
But the fact is that not every novel – regardless of how well written – transfers to the big screen. That is the case with both Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, reasonable thrillers that might be allowed to breathe and unfold across 400 odd pages, but seem all too fanciful and unlikely when crammed into 120 odd minutes.
The old saying ‘the book is better’ is sometimes all too true, but it’s an easy observation when the films are this mediocre.