Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 11, 2022)
Back in 1993, James Patterson’s “Alex Cross” series of detective novels started with Along Came a Spider. However, when the books leapt to the big screen, Patterson’s second text made it there first.
Patterson published Kiss the Girls in 1995. 1997 brought that tale to theaters.
In Washington DC, Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) works as a police forensic psychologist. A mix of personal and professional concerns sends him to North Carolina when his niece Naomi (Gina Ravera) goes missing.
Local authorities believe a serial kidnapper/murderer referred to as “Casanova” took Naomi. Along with the assistance of escaped abduction victim Kate McTiernan (Ashley Judd), Cross works to solve the case.
Should we consider the 1990s to act as the “Golden Age” of serial killer movies? I don’t know, but given that it included Silence of the Lambs and Se7en - arguably the genre’s two finest films ever – this topic became more dominant in that decade than before or since then.
Because Freeman stars in both, the connections to Se7en become apparent, but otherwise, Kiss much more closely resembles Lambs. Both involve villains who kidnap/imprison their victims for specific purposes and who get known by nicknames with historical connections.
This doesn’t make Kiss a Lambs clone, but the similarities don’t seem coincidental. Despite its twists, we can feel like we find ourselves in a Lambs semi-remake more than an original project.
Kiss finds it difficult to overcome its derivative nature. Whether due to the source text from Patterson, the screenplay from David Klass or the direction from Gary Fleder, the movie never finds much of a stimulating path.
Even without the direct comparisons to Se7en and Lambs, Kiss simply comes with a major “been there, done that” factor. As noted, we got a lot of serial killer movies in the 1990s, and this one can’t find the creativity to rise above the pack.
Given the cast, this becomes a bigger disappointment. In addition to Freeman and Judd, we find solid talents like Cary Elwes, Brian Cox, Jay O. Sanders, Bill Nunn, Jeremy Piven and Tony Goldwyn.
None of them seem especially invested in the material, perhaps because they realize they got stuck in a mediocre thriller. Despite ample room for tension and drama, Kiss winds up as a wholly lackluster flick.