Directed by Lee Tamahori
Running Time: 1:41
Rated R for violence and language.

Along Came A Spider was an enjoyable enough film, thanks mostly to Morgan Freeman, but overall the story was very light, and the plot not very tight. Hey I made a rhyme.

Freeman stars again as Detective/forensic psychologist Alex Cross, star of the James Patterson novel series. This time Detective Cross is drawn into a kidnapping of a Senator's daughter (Mika Boorem) from her very secure school. Monica Potter plays Secret Service Agent Jezzie Flannigan who was on duty when the young girl was kidnapped. The one thing about this movie is that you know immediately who the kidnapper is. Gary Soneji (Michael Wincott) is the guy who kidnaps the girl, so the question is why, not who. But why is also given to you, he just wants to be famous, to go down in history as a great kidnapper. So you know something is coming. The movie then throws in a few twists and turns that you may or may not see coming, depending on how cynical you are.

Morgan Freeman is always a delight, and there is nothing different here. He has a nice quiet yet powerful ability to take over a moment. You can't help but enjoy his slow, methodical psychoanalysis of every situation. He acts as a mentor to Agent Flannigan and tries to teach her how to handle different situations. Watching the two of them work together is fun. But the story and the plot got to me. It was all too simple. There wasn't a lot of thinking needed to understand what was happening, and when those twists and turns come up, no reason is given as to why. It's like they're all there just for the shock value and not because it actually makes the movie more interesting.

I was re-reading my review for Kiss the Girls, the previous Alex Cross film. I feel the same way about both films. Enjoyable enough to watch, but very light on story and plot. The books are much more involved, but that's generally the case for most books that are turned into movies. Books allow the author to describe the scenes more. They allow the author to go deeper into the characters, to show you where they're coming from. Movies are constrained by time, so there isn't a lot of time to delve into how we get to the point we're at. Along Came A Spider opens with a short sequence showing how Detective Cross loses his partner is a botched sting operation. But then just a few minutes later he's drawn into the kidnapping case by Soneji (granted it's 9 months later in the story). According to the production notes, he's supposed to have given up being a detective, but in the movie they don't go into that at all. The phone rings, and he's a detective again.

So overall Along Came A Spider is a fine movie. Very simple, not much to think about, and well acted. But not a spectacular film by any stretch. I would suggest reading the books instead.

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reviewed 04/08/01

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