HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Kiss the Girls
HTS Overall Score:72
Taken from the pages of famed author James Patterson, “Kiss the Girls” brings together a star studded cast to bring his most famous character to life. While other authors have a good array of popular characters, James Patterson sells more novels than just about any other mystery writer (although much of his newer work is really just ghost writing), and Alex Cross is by far his most popular character. Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd make this taught little thriller work, and work so well together that they reunite in the spiritual successor to this film “High Crimes” a few years late. “Kiss the Girls” is the first of the three Alex Cross films, two of which star the fantastic Morgan Freeman (we really don’t want to admit that the Tyler Perry one even exists) and this one is DEFINITELY the superior film of the three. Twisted, dark and suspenseful from beginning to end, “Kiss the Girls” manages to be a film that I re watch time and time again over the years.
Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman), a criminal psychologist in the New York police department is in for a bad few weeks. After successfully talking down a potential suicide victim from killing herself, he comes home to find out that his niece, Naomi (Gina Ravera), has been kidnapped by a psychopath. Using every lead he has, Alex finds out that that the local police in North Caroline where Naomi was kidnapped from believe her to be the latest victim of serial rapist/murder in the area. Flying out to North Carolina, Alex soon runs across another victim of the killer. This time the victim is actually ALIVE. Dr. Kate McTiernan (Ashley Judd) was kidnapped by the killer (codenamed Casanova), but was the only person to actually make it out of his lair alive.
Using this to his advantage, Cross and the North Carolina police force use Kate to try and track down the killer. While she was under his control, Dr. McTiernan was under heavy drugs, but using every bit of deductive reasoning he can the detectives slowly get a handle on the whereabouts of the killer. However, after some careful deliberation, the facts just don’t add up. There is not a serial killer, but serial KILLERS. Two competing killers, using the same methods and strategies, feeding off of each other and competing for kills. Narrowing down on Casanova, Kate and Alex soon have him in their crosshairs. The problem is actually being able to PROVE that it’s him, and not only that. How do they find out who the 2nd killer is?
“Kiss the Girls” was almost a flop of a film, as the original trailer pulls a Robert Zemeckis and pretty much give away the latter half of the movie with WAY too much information. Thankfully the great chemistry of the two leads, and even the supporting characters give the movie a life, even when spoiled. Patterson’s novel is fantastic, but a little bit much for a 2 hour film, so Director Gary Fleder manages to trim down the fat just a bit, while retaining the meat of the book. A few key points are change and altered for the big screen a bit, but most of the changes actually work quite well. I won’t spoil the 2nd half of the movie, but let’s just say that there are several twists and turns along the way that really earns the fantastic approval the film has today. Cary Elwes and Jeremy Piven doe fantastic in their supporting roles, and Brian Cox is his normal amazing self as the surly police chief for North Carolina.
There are a few flaws to the film, mainly with Casanova. A 2 hour movie has a hard time wrapping up two villains, and it’s known from the first 40 minutes that Casanova’s storyline ends a good bit earlier than expected. As such he’s a bit too under developed for my tastes. Not a horribly so, but you can tell that there needed to be a few more minutes in the runtime for you to truly understand his sick and twisted psyche. One of the major advantages of the Alex Cross character is how he applies his clinical psychology to the case and how the criminal is undone, but that part is abandoned part way through the film for a more traditional action ending for him.
Rated R for terror, violence and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=55994[/img]Being the same video encode as the previously released international version by Paramount, “Kiss the Girls” holds the same great video encode on the disc, just with a shiny new menu. The movie looks like it came from a solid master, but one that was at least a few years old when the international disc was released. Colors are solid and show quite a bit of pop, but there is some inherent softness to the picture and a little bit of contrast boosting. Skin tones looks solid, albeit a bit pale due to the contrast boosting, and fine detail is good, with a nice sharp image. Black levels are impressive and stay well detailed, but occasionally have some black crush seep in the cracks. “Kiss the Girls” isn’t a 4K remaster by any means, but as a catalog title it appears to have held up quite well over the years.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=56002[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track on board also is quite good. Using the surrounds with superb effect, the film manages to capture the claustrophobic and disorienting feeling of the victims and uses that in the sound design. When Kate escapes Casanova’s lair her escape is wildly chaotic and fills the surrounds up with activity as well as showing off some very nice directionality. LFE is tight and punchy, with solidly impacting bass lines and some weight to the suspenseful score. Dialog is always crisp and clear, whether it be Morgan Freeman narrating much of the plot, or Casanova’s disembodied voice whispering into the girl’s ears eerily.
“Kiss the Girls” is easily the best of the three Alex Cross films, as is the first movie in most series. The book was one of Patterson’s better novels, and the refreshing take on the serial killer motif works so well, both then and now. The disc is basically the same disc that released internationally (as most of these releases on the 13th have been), and that means we have the same good audio and video score as well as a disappointing lack of extras. While I wish there was a bit more meat to the disc in regards to some actual supplements, the impressive audio and video along with a dirt cheap MSRP price puts this a solid recommendation.
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Cary Elwes
Directed by: Gary Fleder
Written by: James Patterson (Book), David Klass (Screenplay)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, German, Italian, Spanish DD 5.1, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese DD 2.0
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 116 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 13th 2015
Buy Kiss the Girls On Blu-ray at Amazon
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