Wednesday, October 15, 1997

Kiss the Girls

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 1997 at 12:00 AM

Only in America could so much money and power be put to the systematic production of ignorance. Willful ignorance at that. How else can one explain the appearance of yet another serial killer film long after the thrill has gone. Director Gary Fleder, who deserved a kick in the head for his dreadful debut, Things to do in Denver blah blah blah, merits a lobotomy for this exercise in narcoleptic anti-entertainment.

Indeed, the most disturbing aspect of the film is neither its plot nor the killer's style of mayhem, but rather how it all seems so banal: the serial killer as sleeping aid. Just look to Morgan Freeman, listlessly rehashing his Seven persona, for cues to nod off. He plays Alex Cross, a best-selling author and forensic psychologist. His niece, a gifted violinist, is snatched from her university campus in North Carolina by a professional weirdo who fancies himself a lover man with European pretensions. In his inevitable correspondence with the cops, he calls himself Casanova.

Suave fellow that he is, Casanova pilfers a dozen gifted young honeys whom he keeps sequestered in an abandoned plantation. Three have already "displeased" him and met their demise.

And so, with the clock ticking, Dr. Cross scurries down from Washington to the Deep South where he must find the killer while navigating a narrative so full of plot holes that implausibility becomes his constant traveling companion.

Granted that Felder is working from a script adapted from a novel, he still seems incapable of originality. His aesthetic tricks are primarily sonic, relying heavily on amped-up sound effects that quickly give birth to migraines. Whatever gravity the film has comes directly from Freeman, an actor with a Teflon presence who uses a detached speaking tone as shorthand for psychic depth and a handsomely lined face as emblem of hard-bitten kindness.

The serial killer has had his day. Now let him have his night, as far away as possible.

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