Mark Reviews Movies


2 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Lee Tamahori

Cast: Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, Michael Wincott, Jay O. Sanders, Dylan Baker

MPAA Rating: (for violence and language)

Running Time: 1:43

Release Date: 4/6/01

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Review by Mark Dujsik

Along Came a Spider revolves around a character so brilliant, he is actually able to bypass large plot gaps and proceed with his work. It also gives Morgan Freeman a chance to once and for all prove that he could walk through a garbage heap and convince you it smells nice.

Spider is the follow-up to the 1997 thriller Kiss the Girls, which also starred Freeman, although the events here take place before the other movie. I remember that Kiss the Girls was a more effective but equally forgettable movie, however, most of the details escape me. If there is another follow-up, I will most likely say the same things about this movie.

Detective Alex Cross is a famous forensic psychologist who has lost a partner in a failed sting operation. Quickly I must note that the opening sequence of the movie is its most exciting. It unfortunately passes by too quickly and could have been much more effective. Cut to a prep school for powerful peopleís children. Here a teacher abducts a senatorís daughter and kills a fellow teacher. He is Gary Soneji (I like the character actor who plays Soneji, and since his identity is not revealed in the trailer, I will leave a small surprise for those who see the movie), and he will become Crossí rival for the majority of the movie. Cut back to Cross still recovering from the tragedy. He receives a phone call and the little girlís shoe from Soneji as an invitation on the case.

At the senatorís home he meets the Secret Service agent in charge of security at the school. She is Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter), and she says she understands Crossí loss after losing the girl. The two partner up to track the kidnapper and find the girl. Soneji throws Cross for a loop though when he does not demand money, although Cross is able to ascertain his motivation behind the crime and plays Sonejiís ego in an attempt to save the girl.

The movie is based on the novel by James Patterson, and I highly doubt I will ever read any of his fiction. I cannot compare the movie to the book, but I canít imagine a novel with so many plot holes would actually be published and wide-read. I know many of Pattersonís fans have commented that these gaps are not present in the book, but Iíll never know. Characters in the movie happen upon scenes of other crimes directly related to Soneji for no apparent reason except that they need to be there to advance the plot. Like Kiss the Girls and most thrillers released in the last five years, there is a twist that should surprise the audience, but here it is a groaner. It comes out of nowhere and is not backed up by any of the characterís (or charactersí) actions.

There is too much information given for certain element that should have remained a surprise. For example, we know who Soneji is and where he has the girl, so the whole movie we are waiting for someone to happen upon him. Even the twist is set up too early. Itís not really a surprise because we know who is involved before that moment of "shock" arrives. On the other hand, there is not enough information given for basic plot elements, hence all the plot holes. There is no way this movie could have led to a satisfying conclusion with all the gaps, and with the ending we have, it is completely frustrating.

The movieís one saving grace is Freeman, who has grown to embody intelligence in his recent performances. He is one of my favorite actors, and he does make the material seem much better than it actually is. A lot of his dialogue reminded me of scenes from Seven, and the memory of a superior film adds another layer of mediocrity to the movie.

Along Came a Spider will find an audience and probably a big one at that. Itís a movie that breathes mediocrity and probably could not have been any better. I hope not too many are misled by Morgan Freemanís performance, but if they are, I donít blame themóthey were fooled by the best.

Copyright © 2001 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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