Along Came a Spider
Reviewed by: Brett Willis
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
April 6, 2001
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.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.
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.
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.