Movie Review

Along Came a Spider

MPAA Rating: R for violence and language

Reviewed by: Brett Willis
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Thriller
Length:
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
1999
USA Release:
April 6, 2001
Relevant Issues
Morgan Freeman in “Along Came a Spider”
Featuring: Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, Michael Wincott, Penelope Ann Miller, Michael Moriarty
Director: Lee Tamahori
Producer: David Brown, Joe Wizan
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

In this long-awaited follow-up to 1997’s “Kiss the Girls”, Morgan Freeman reprises his role as homicide detective Dr. Alex Cross. Freeman is excellent as usual, and Monica Potter also has a strong screen presence (like Julia Roberts with smaller lips and a smaller price tag). But the film suffers from the Hollywood tendency to transform dramas into thrillers and to choose far-out plot twists over substance. It’s entertaining and involving at the moment, but nothing to write home about after it’s over.

Monica Potter in “Along Came a Spider”In the “grabber” opening scene, Cross’ partner is killed. Feeling personally responsible for her death, he takes several months off. But he’s drawn back to work when a sicko (Michael Wincott), who’s kidnapped the daughter of a U.S. Senator, chooses to send Cross some clues and force him onto the case. Although Jezzie Flannigan (Potter) is in the doghouse as the head of the Secret Service detail under whose noses the kidnapper did his work, Cross takes her as a partner since she’s the person who knows the kidnapper best.

Using his Profiling skills, Cross correctly dissects the kidnapper’s motives and keeps the heat on him. But there’s more going on here than meets the eye (the story is greatly altered from the novel). Don’t assume anything. The tagline “The Game is Far from Over” could apply to the film as well as to the kidnapper’s plan.

Content Warnings

Several jolting on-screen deaths, most with gunfire and blood-splatter. A lot of scariness and tension throughout. Profanity, including at least 4 uses of f* and a reference to oral sex. And the upsetting theme of people in positions of trust being untrustworthy.

Positives

Cross is the ultimate professional cop (thankfully, his affair with Flannigan in the novel was changed to a non-romantic mentor/student relationship in the film). The 12-year-old kidnap victim (Mika Boorem) repeatedly shows resourcefulness in trying to escape.

This film is escapist adult cinematic chewing gum; I recommend it as exactly that and nothing more. Based on advance publicity, I was expecting something better and was disappointed. Since there are several other novels in this series, we may be seeing Dr. Cross again every few years. Perhaps it’s too much to hope for now that the pattern is set, but I’d appreciate it if some of the films in the series would have halfway-believable plots.


Viewer Comments
GO SEE THIS MOVIE if you would like to see a movie that breaks a lot of old cliches. I thought that this movie was a refreshing change from so many stale movies of the past. First, there was very little foul language used. There was only one sexual scene that should have been left out in the beginning of the film. I don’t know why people didn’t like this movie much. The police actually worked together, pooling their strengths together to solve the case. So many cop movies have a “good cop/bad cop” mentality. Also, there was no unrealistic scene (except for the car scene at the beginning). When a person got shot, they died… etc. Great entertainment, great acting, and a great plot made me say, “wow” at the end and all through the 3 times I got to see this in the theater. THIS IS A MUST SEE MOVIE --
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Bill, age 22
Great movie! Suspenseful, sort of predictable, lots of twists, hardly any cursing, no sex… GO SEE IT! This movie is rated R for violence and two uses of the F word.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Adam, age 18
Along Came A Spider, although offensive in some parts, was a decently crafted script with some good acting. I have not read the book and was therefore, pleasantly thrilled by the way the movie kept me wondering what the next surprise would be. I did cover my eyes in a couple of spots due to the suspense. Definitely an movie for adults.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4]
—Andowan, age 30
In comparison to the usual trash that is hitting the theatres these days and the previous two films in the *series* (Se7en, Kiss The Girls) this movie is relatively benign. However, it has its moments of vulgarity. It could have been a lot worse. It could have been better, too. I would recommend for a mature adult but not for anyone under 18.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Bookem, age 31
Movie Critics
…explicit sexually related dialogue is present…
—ScreenIt!
…Five audible F-words… five mild profanities, some insults and a couple of religious exclamations…
—Kids-in-Mind
…collapses under the weight of its own preposterousness…
—Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters
…Throughout the action, or inaction, Freeman strides with noble authority…
—Susan Wloszczyna, USA Today