In the familiar vein of such past films as "Seven" and "Copycat," comes the latest entry into the serial murder genre, "Kiss the Girls." Under the direction of Gary Fleder (who also helmed the quirky "Things to do in Denver When You're Dead"), this film showcases many of the familiar elements of its predecessors, yet it also weaves some new angles and aspects into the story. Starring one of the better actors around today, Morgan Freeman ("Shawshank Redemption," "Seven," although we can't forget his roots on "Electric Company,"), the film relates the tale of what appears to be a kinky serial killer. Freeman plays Alex Cross, a forensic psychologist in Washington, D. C., who gets involved in the case that plays out in Durham, North Carolina, because one of the victims is his niece (Gina Ravera). Naturally, I won't reveal any spoilers here, but the fact that the bad guy *appears* to be a serial killer is one of the more original aspects of the screenplay that set this film apart from others in the genre. One of the victims somehow not only escapes, but manages to establish contact with some of the other previous victims. It is she who provides the authorities with the best leads and clues they can get. This escapee, Kate, who also happens to be a doctor, is authoritively played by Ashley Judd ("A Time to Kill," established with "Ruby in Paradise"). Freeman and Judd formed a decent, very charismatic, if unlikely, team, which only lent itself to reinforcing the underlying charms of this picture. "Kiss the Girls" contains more substance than meets the eye. Despite the two lead characters getting a sufficient amount of screen time to establish and develop their chemistry, I was left wanting for a further and deeper exploration of their characters, especially as a team. Of course, an achievement such as this is considerable, and is a mark of a quality film. It is refreshing to see originality and character development utilized successfully here.
Rated R (violence; mature themes)