Kiss The Girls Reviews
Saw this on 26/11/15
An average film that had the potential to be far better that what it is. It has some thrills and a few well shot scenes, but it has pacing issues and cannot build up suspense the way films like Bone Collector builds up. Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd do justice to their roles and Judd is extremely sexy here. It lacks a good villain in the first place and it doesn't carry it's viewers along with it. The film's plus points are a scene where a woman is shown jumping a waterfall, there the cinematography is excellent and many such things. The direction feels slightly immature, it feels as if it's dragging the narrative down. The prologue of the film is great but it holds no relevance to the story. The plot is also improbable and at times full of loopholes, just like the ending.
For reasons beyond my understanding, Kiss the Girls was adapted prior to Along Came a Spider even though the series chronologically begins with Along Came a Spider. But that issue was arbitrary because as I learned from Lee Tamahori's adaptation of Along Came a Spider, these adaptations are indifferent to exploring the depth or meaning behind the main character Alex Cross and are more likely to instead strip down to being merely a formulaic crime thriller. My expectations for Kiss the Girls were low, but considering the fact that the novel itself was not too impressive in terms of story I guess it was unlikely I would be too disappointed. The only problem was that the best part of Kiss the Girls was James Patterson's writing style, and so a film adaptation would have to ignore than in favour of actual tangible qualities. At most, I hoped for a semi decent, somewhat tense and well-acted crime thriller even though I still expected not to like the film.
It doesn't take long at all before it is revealed that Kiss the Girls will be a hollow adaptation of its source material. The scene which dictates this is the moment where it is revealed to Alex Cross that his niece has gone missing. In the book, this is a heartbreaking moment where the investigation becomes very personal for Alex and he sees his family matriarch known as Nana Mama burst into tears even though she swore she would never do that again. In the film, it is nothing more than a hollow and lifeless moment of uninvolving drama which comes into the story without appropriate time for a sensible tonal transition to occur. It honestly didn't surprise me but it still annoyed me, and so from that moment on I knew that Kiss the Girls would be another lifeless and generic crime thriller film which ignored the heart of its source material, its original story context and any sense of character.
Kiss the Girls was not the most exciting or interesting book in the first place, but seeing it drained of all its substance and life and turned into the generic product that it was gave me more appreciation for the book. I guess hoping that a film would be decent if it was based on only a decent novel was a bit much when it was another negatively received entry into the collection of Alex Cross adaptations.
The script in the film maintains little of the dialogue that was in the original novel. But to make up for it, the script does admittedly have some fairly effective language in it. Where the script fails in when it tries to tell its story. The screenplay skims over so many characters, exploration of complicated relationships between them, subplots and other elements which leaves the film bland and tasteless. When Gary Fleder is left unable to salvage the film beyond its visual appeal, viewers are left unable to enjoy it because the fact is that Kiss the Girls remains a poor adaptation of a somewhat dull story which means that it didn't have high standards in the first place but still ignored enough to pass off as a boring creation. Incidentally, Kiss the Girls gains little to no help from David Klass' screenplay and benefits slightly from Gary Fleder's direction.
The general style of the film doesn't mirror the slow burning tense tone of the original novel, but it does give the film a sense of movement and energy. There are some slow and tense moments, but the more effectively atmospheric scenes in the film are when things are really energetic and fast moving. Some scenes in the film are executed with a lot of style, such as the scene in which Kate McTiernan jumps from her captors into a river far below her. The scene is intense and the scenery is strong which makes it one of the best executed scenes in the film. Overall, although the universe does not match what was described in the novel perfectly due to some plot changes, it all looks nice and is captured with some really atmospheric cinematography which gives the film a sense of edge at times and makes it a decent treat on the eyes even if it is not one on the mind.
All that is left to take note of in Kiss the Girls is the cast, and the entire film can be broken down on the basis of the performances by Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.
Although Morgan Freeman is not the perfect fit for the role of Alex Cross due to the fact that he is significantly older than the character was described as being in the novel, he still brings two strong assets to the role: his ability to deal with high profile intense situations and his voice. For much of the film, Morgan Freeman is decent at best in the role of Alex Cross. But when the situations get severely dangerous, he acts quickly. He stands strong in the role grasping his weaponry with confidence and staring at his foes with visionary tension, and whenever he speaks any words during the film his natural wise tone of voice gives off the sense that he knows what he is talking about and how to handle the situations he is facing. Kiss the Girls is less of a good adaptation of the book than it is a starring vehicle for Morgan Freeman, but he works hard enough to ensure that his role in the film is not wasted by delivering an imperfect but still strong performance in the part of Alex Cross. He certainly remains a genial presence all throughout the film.
In the novel, Kate McTiernan was the spitting image of perfection: a beautiful, confident woman who was also able to put up a fight. Although Ashley Judd executes the strength of a believable fighter, for the rest of the film she seems rather spiritless. It seems as if she was going for a balance between confident and emotionally traumatic, but instead ended up reaching a character who is merely bereft of any sense of charisma whatsoever. Ashley Judd is monotonous most of the time in Kiss the Girls, and when she goes for sad it comes off as artificial. While her scenes with Morgan Freeman are good because he is able to build off of their interactions, she proves to be unable to perform in the role. She has her moments during some of the more casual scenes in the film, but for the most of the film she goes with the weak characterisation of Kate McTiernan and fails to implement in the slightest bit of legitimacy in her portrayal of a victim of kidnapping.
So despite Gary Fleder's stylish directorial work and a decent leading performance from Morgan Freeman, Kiss the Girls ignores enough of the plot elements in its source material to become a dull and predictable crime thriller without the clever twists that James Patterson was good at using.