Both films are based on novels by James Patterson, and both star Morgan Freeman. Freeman plays forensic psychologist Alex Cross. In the first (1997), he is pulled into a serial kidnapping case when his niece goes missing at university in North Carolina. The kidnapper is drawn to strong, competent women and soon the kidnapper, who calls himself Casanova, abducts a local doctor (played by Ashley Judd). She manages to escape and insists on helping Cross find the kidnapper.
In the second film (2001), Cross has retired from the force after a sting operation gone wrong results in the death of his partner. He is pulled back into police work when the daughter of a US Senator is kidnapped from her private school by one of the teachers. The teacher contacts Cross, who eventually figures out that the kidnapper is obsessed with the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and is trying to become as infamous as the kidnapper in that case. The senator’s daughter is just one part of his plan. When Cross finally confronts the kidnapper, he realizes that there is much more to the case than he first believed.
So, yes, we’ve seen them before, but we were looking for something to watch and decided to give them another watch. I have not read Patterson’s novels, but I suspect that, as usual, a lot was left out and/or changed. That’s not necessarily a criticism because the nature of the two media are so different, things have to change somewhat. Both films are decent enough, although later reflection does reveal some plot holes and gaps. Nothing that made me lose focus as watching, even on these second viewings, so that works. Freeman is quite good, as should be expected and his performances are the real gems here. Supporting casts are also decent, and include Judd, Cary Elwes, Monica Potter, Michael Moriarty, and Jay O. Sanders who is in both films.
In the end, these are decent enough thriller movies. They are very watchable with some plot twits and good casting. Entertaining and done well enough to stand up to a second viewing at a few years’ distance.
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