In Kiss the Girls, Ashley Judd co-stars as Dr. Kate McTiernan. After Kate becomes victimized by a serial kidnapper and abuser of women, she teams up with Detective Cross in order to track the sicko down. This was director Gary Fleder's sophomore effort (following his 1995 Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead) and it's a sturdily constructed psychological thriller. Freeman is suitably authoritative, instilling Cross with a commanding (if somewhat predictable) gravitas. Judd steals the picture with a fierce portrayal of a woman who refuses to remain a victim. A rather distinguished supporting cast includes Cary Elwes, Jeremy Piven, Bill Nunn, and Brian Cox.
When we catch up with Cross five years later in Along Came a Spider, he's hanging things up. The death of his partner in a botched sting operation led him to early retirement. But there are always crazy kidnappers on the loose, so we wind up with this less-inspired followup to the earlier film. Teenaged Megan (Mika Boorem) is kidnapped, but she's no ordinary high school student: she's the daughter of U.S. Senator Hank Rose (Michael Moriarty). The secret service agent who screwed up on the job, allowing Megan to be snatched, needs Cross' help in the search for her captor. That's Monica Potter (NBC's Parenthood) as the beleaguered secret service agent. While Potter would develop into a capable actress, at this point in her career she seemed little more than a poor man's Julia Roberts (and nowhere near as interesting a female lead as Ashley Judd).
Director Lee Tamahori has far better entries in his filmography, including the underrated The Edge (1997). When the film's heavy, the so-called Spider, reveals his full plan, involving an international kidnapping plot, Tamahori loses control of Marc Moss' adapted screenplay. Moss, incidentally, would go on to write the even more poorly-received Alex Cross film, 2012's appropriately titled Alex Cross, a box office dud starring Tyler Perry in titular role. Along Came a Spider is serviceable at best; even Freeman appears to be going through the motions this time. It's not really a sequel so much as a companion piece because it's a standalone story that happens to share a lead character, but they're basically a matched pair.
Let's get the bad news out of the way first: Warner Bros.' new Blu-rays for these films contain no special features. Zero. Not a promotional "making of," not a trailer—nothing. But if you're just looking for solid 1080p high definition transfers and lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mixes, you're in luck. While not likely to stop anyone in their tracks, both Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider look and sound noticeably refreshed.