Along Came a Spider (2001)

ALONG CAME A SPIDER is a calm, nearly-capable follow-up to KISS THE 
GIRLS, the Morgan Freeman-starring serial-killer thriller notable to 
Triangle theatergoers for (a.) its locally set story and (b.) the fact 
that two of the big three local "schools" refused the filmmakers per-
mission for filming.  (Said 1997 film's story, from James Patterson's 
far-better book, also underwent at least one "sympathetic change," the 
novel's nifty Franklin Street shoot-out excised after a *real* downtown 
Chapel Hill shoot-out occurred a couple years earlier.)  This time, 
it's a high-profile kidnapping that returns Freeman's police psychol-
ogist Alex Cross.  (Actually, the story is set *before* the events of 
the first film, so his character is technically being *introduced*.)  
He's chasing the captor of a Senator's child, a former patient of his 
who appears less-interested in ransom than playing an extended game of 
cat and mouse.  (For starters, the will-murder-as-needed kidnapper is 
emulating Bruno Hauptmann's Crime of the Century.)  The plot also 
includes some unnecessary emotional baggage for Freeman's otherwise 
unshakeable character, courtesy of an obviously computer-generated car 
crash at the film's start.  (And where his undercover partner dies a 
cheesy-looking dramatic death.  Groan.)

As happened last time, Freeman is paired another plucky, young white 
female, this time Monica Potter as a too young-looking Secret Service 
agent.  (She may look out of place, but is nowhere *near* as distract-
ing as Penelope Ann Miller, perfectly dreadful as the girl's grieving 
mum.)  The venerable Freeman is, again, as good as he always is.  Maybe 
even his *most* centered to date, if such a thing is possible.  (Does 
he just keep getting better, or what?)  Michael Wincott plays the vil-
lain and he's more congenial than creepy.  In fact, he's hardly men-
acing at *all*, which is a regrettable summation of the *film*.  De-
spite the built-in "juiciness" of a child kept in peril, the film is 
never palatably unpleasant.  Sure, the various chases and shoot-outs 
and will-she-escape-in-time sequences will keep you *awake*.  Just not 
squirming in (or even on the edge of) your seat.  (The finale, however, 
is a surprise let-down.  Though dull, the film has a consistent... dur-
ability that falters only in the final reels and one near-laughable 
climax.)  Eh, another slack film in another slack season.  What is else 
new, right?  At least two hours with Morgan Freeman pass painlessly.  
And, as for why his character doesn't radio for back-up in said laugh-
able finale, the answer is obvious:  'cause it would break "the rules," 
right?  Lee Tamahori (THE EDGE) directs.  (Rated "R"/103 min.)

Grade: C

Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros