Cast & Crew
Agent Jezzie Flannigan
Gary Soneji/Jonathan Mercuzio
Penelope Ann Miller:
Senator Hank Rose
Produced by David Brown, Morgan Freeman, Marty Hornstein
and Joe Wizan; Directed by Lee Tamahori; Screenwritten
by Marc Moss; based on the novel by James Patterson
Thriller (US); Rated R for violence and language;
Running Time -100 Minutes
Domestic Release Date
April 6, 2001
by DAVID KEYES
villain referred to in the title of Lee Tamahori's "Along
Came A Spider" is not the innocuous arachnid who "frightened
Miss Muffet away" in nursery rhymes, but instead a viscous
and manipulative psychopath who creeps between the cracks
of the plot without fear of being discovered by someone who
just might unravel his web of deception. He also doesn't seem
to mind much that he's wandering around without a sense of
what he's doing, or what the point exactly is of his endless
mind games. And that's an even bigger problem with the movie
than you might first suspect, because the protagonist of the
picture, a forensics detective named Alex Cross (the always-admirable
Morgan Freeman), is so smart and alert in his police investigations
that even more cautious criminals would not likely slip through
his fingers. Watching him wade through this incoherent mess
is like seeing a good baseball pitcher benched for the season;
he has the talent and the ambition, but the situation he's
in just doesn't give him the opportunity to show off the way
he deserves to.
be too confused if you've heard the character's name before,
either--he's actually the same man who unraveled the sinister
but compelling plot of "female collecting" in 1997's "Kiss
The Girls." That movie, like this one (which, despite little
cinematic linkage, is considered a prequel), studies the
process of investigation through a man who doesn't ever
overlook the smallest details, even though the antagonist
continuously strikes and always leaves so little for the
FBI to go on. The big difference is that the first movie
had a layered, thought-provoking story that left the audience
feeling like it was part of the intricate mystery, often
peeking around corners for clues. In this, the "much-anticipated"
follow-up, so little makes sense and so much is left up
to speculation that there isn't even an urge to get involved,
and when the plot begins to make the obligatory turning
points, we are so bewildered by the many idiotic connections
and absurdities that even the writers of "Arlington Road"
would throw back their heads in disbelief.
Alex Cross we first come into contact with here is not exactly
the man who is "ready for the job"--he's just lost his partner,
and spends most of his spare time building model boats to
pass along the hours. Soon, however, he is called back into
duty when sweet little Megan Rose (Mika Boorem), a student
at a prestigious private school and daughter to a U.S. Senator,
is kidnapped by a madman named Gary Soneji (Michael Wincott)
with some kind of hidden agenda (so hidden, in fact, that
the audience never really gets to know what it is). What
intrigues Cross about the case most is not the victim, but
the conviction of the kidnapper's style (who, by chance,
masqueraded as a teacher at the school before he pounced).
Periodically, Soneji will leave little clues behind for
Cross and his dimwitted partner, Jezzie Flannigan (Monica
Potter), to catch onto, inspiring a cat-and-mouse game similar
in vein to that of last year's "The Watcher."
Tamahori, who seems to have suffered a creative collapse
ever since his "The Edge" was released four years ago, does
little to help the material find a firm surface. Often we
get the impression that he's directing his stars and technicians
as loosely as possible, not because he wants it that way,
but because there's nothing much to push for here. And if
that isn't bad enough, the remaining cast wanders aimlessly
through the material as if they're looking for a mentor,
and yet can never seem to find one. Poor little Monica Potter
is a prime example of how this plays out; her secret agent
character is wimpy, spontaneous, withdrawn and weary, looking
up to the Alex Cross character as if she were saying, "would
you be my teacher?"
away from this extremely asinine product, I am reminded
not of its direct descendant, "Kiss The Girls," but "Seven,"
a thorough, rousing and highly engaging murder mystery thriller
that was not just plausibly legit, but also starred Morgan
Freeman as a subtle, determined detective whose voice was
a low growl, his eyes telescopes for little clues. If you
want to see "Along Came A Spider," be my guest. But do yourself
a favor and see "Seven" if you haven't afterwards. Then
you can tell me which picture is the correct way to handle
a police investigation.
2001, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
Please e-mail the author here
if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.