Eight kidnapped women. All beautiful. All talented. All in danger of having their lives cut cruelly short if police detective Alex Cross and key witness Kate Mctiernan can't locate the elusive "collector" who calls himself Casanova. From the Deep South to the California coast and back, the hunt is on in this provocative race-against-time suspenser based on the best-selling novel by James Patterson. Ashley Judd plays resourceful, strong-willed Kate Mctiernan. She's the lone escapee from Casanova's hidden lair... and determined to rescue the fellow captives she left behind. Morgan Freeman is Detective Alex Cross, a master at solving the unsolvable. But there's more than his reputation at stake: this time one of the victims is his niece in this "taut, riveting thriller" (Fox-TV).
Coming after The Silence of the Lambs
, this thriller about a collaboration between two serial killers feels like a pale attempt to cash in on the success of those earlier, better films. That's a pity, because this film certainly has its strengths--particularly in the central performances of Morgan Freeman as a forensic detective and Ashley Judd as a would-be victim who escaped from one of the killers. Director Gary Fleder demonstrates visual flair and maintains an involving undercurrent of tension, but as this adaptation of James Patterson's novel approaches its climax, familiar elements combine to form a chronic case of thriller déjà vu. It's altogether competent filmmaking in the service of a moribund story of competing psychopaths, and by the time the serial killers reach the home stretch of their twisted contest, the movie's dangerously close to Freddy Kruger territory, with a finale that could've been borrowed from any dozen similar thrillers. --Jeff Shannon