on April 5, 2003
I took a chance on this movie because it stars Morgan Freeman and my experience is that he is a good, reliable actor. That opinion was not challenged by his performance in "Along Came a Spider". This movie starts out with a bang and doesn't slow down much after that. The plot gets a little complicated at times and I'm not sure I can tell you why everything that happened did happen. However, the action and the twists and turns make this an enjoyable two hours. It suffers somewhat by the typical thriller complaints; everything had to happen just so in order for the events to unfold the way they were planned to. There was a lot relying on the right split-second decisions being made and, with children involved, correctly predicting their moves at the right time. My kids complain that I always ruin a good movie by pointing out the improbabilities of various plot directions. Thus I will not belabor the point here. With that in mind I think that this is a movie that has plenty of action with a somewhat cerebral plot. If you enjoy that type of movie you will enjoy this one as well. I would give it a 3 1/2 but it falls short of a higher rating.
on April 22, 2004
The daughter of Senator Rose is kidnapped by her "teacher"; another teacher is killed. This crazy killer hides young Megan Rose, and calls Dr. Cross, a profiler. (How did this "teacher" pass his background checks?) The problem is to recover Megan Rose unhurt by solving this crime. The Secret Service agent who failed to protect Megan Rose partners with this profiler whose previous partner was killed on the job (an omen?).
Dr. Cross discovers a clue hidden away in a digital photograph. (This crime is modeled after the Lindbergh kidnapping.) Megan Rose tries to escape, the man who tries to help her is killed by kidnapper Songee. There is an attempt to meet another student that goes awry, almost trapping Songee! The police seem to be closing in. Songee calls for $10 million in untraceable diamonds, but this call can't be traced. (Have they no Caller ID?) A series of phone calls leads Dr. Cross to the transit system to deliver the ransom. While this pair discuss the case, Songee invades their house to question them! (Believable?) This mistake leads to Songee's death. But Songee never got the ransom! Is there another criminal involved? The brains behind this plot is a killer! Now Megan Rose knows too much, and must be silenced. But Dr. Cross arrives to stop the killer and save Megan Rose.
This is an entertaining story with plot twists; but the final ending seems incredible to me.
on July 31, 2003
"Along Came A Spider" can make a slow evening pass very quickly.
The plot centers on the kidnapping of a Senator's young daughter from her private school. The kidnapper then gets in touch with famed criminal psychologist Alex Delaware (Morgan Freeman)in an effort to impress him. Delaware has recently lost his partner due to a mistake on his part. To track down the kidnapper, he enlists the help of a beautiful young secret service agent (Monica Potter), who was stationed at the girl's school and is being blamed for the kidnapping. So both individuals are wounded from their past mistakes and anxious to succeed again.
The movie then follows the twists and turns of the duo's efforts to solve the kidnapping. Several plot twists near the end (which I won't go into so as not to ruin the viewing experience) vastly improve the movie. The actors are very strong: Morgan Freeman is particularly moving as Alex Delaware and the young actress who plays the kidnapping victim, Megan Ann Rose, is wonderful.
I would recommend this movie to those individuals who enjoy the thriller/mystery genre. While you certainly can find a better movie in this category, you also can find a number of poorer ones. And, once again, the twists are pretty good...
on February 3, 2003
Morgan Freeman is a illustrious, calm actor who plays his parts to near perfection every time. He is one of my favorite actors, so for me, I was very happy with this movie. Not totally satisfied, though, that I can admit.
I did not like the beginning of the movie. I do think it was necessary to show what had happened to Alex Cross (Freeman), but I think the Lee Tamahori could have played it out during the movie is small parts; bit by bit. If you've seen the movie "Signs", you'll know what I'm talking about. Alex never really feels the need to tell anyone in the movie what had happened, but us viewers just had to know. Also, the car falling into some sort of waterfall/pit-thing didn't really cut it. It's not the way most car accidents end. But hey, I don't want to be a 'bad' critic here; the movie was good. Better than I think most people give credit. Freeman stars alongside the up-and-coming actress Monica Potter. She's a very pretty, yet very focused individual who is flawless throughout. I like how Morgan is always cast with a female co-star as in "High Crimes" and in "Kiss The Girls", he starred with Ashley Judd. I think it works wonders for him, although I think it's a little ironic. He doesn't seem like the 'girl type' person you'd only see around woman. And in the movie "Nurse Betty", he looks too awkward next to Renée Zellweger for comfort.
If you love Freeman as an actor, I'm sure you've seen this movie. But if you don't know too much about him, I have to recommend this movie to you. It's a great ransom thriller that keeps you thinking and wondering what'll happen next. It's really good.
on July 14, 2002
ALONG CAME A SPIDER is another nice installment of the Alex Cross series of mysteries. The book has truly translated well onto the screen.
Morgan Freeman does an excellent job; he plays the character of Cross much less stiffly than we have seen with other genius detective types. Most of the time, they're so clinical and absorbed (sometimes self-absorbed) that it's difficult to watch them. At least Denzel Washington was supposed to be stiff in THE BONE COLLECTOR.
The strength of the movie relies heavily on a quick change-up surprise which occurs at about twenty minutes from the end of movie, which is good, because once you figure out that not everyone is quite as they seem (and we all know who's going to win), a resolution shouldn't be drawn out too long.
I was impressed by Monica Potter's performance. Most critics called her a copy of Julia Roberts, which isn't a bad thing necessarily. There is one scene in which the character Soneji is finally killed, and we see some good acting from her, but not only is she a good actress, her character is a good actress as well. I won't leak too much information, but when the turning point comes, the movie relies much less on Morgan Freeman as a power-actor and turns the spotlight onto Potter. Michael Wincott, as Soneji, and Mika Boorem, as Megan Rose, also do fine jobs.
The movie's not a classic, but the surprise twist does spin your head a bit, and you will definitely not see it coming, unless you've read the book and you know the Alex Cross formula. It's a palpable thriller, and I can't wait for the next installment in the Alex Cross mysteries.
on April 30, 2002
"Along Came A Spider" is a prequel to the 1997 film, "Kiss the Girls" which also starred Morgan Freeman as detective Alex Cross. Detective Cross is a serial kidnapper profiler who becomes involved in a cat and mouse chase that ensues when the daughter of a US Senator is abducted from her high security private school. In order to solve the crime Freeman teams up with the head Secret Service agent in charge of security at the kidnapped child's school, a dubiously cast Monica Potter. Since I am only used to seeing Ms. Monica frolic about in lightweight chick flick films I was surprised to see her granted such a meaty role...but anyway.
This is the sort of movie that is better if you know as little about it as possible so I will not spoil it for you by getting into details. I will say that, like a spider's web, the plot is as intricately woven and full of dead flies (just kidding about the flies). Some parts of the story are completely unpredictable and exciting while others are almost expected...but in the end you'll wonder about the expected parts...that's all I can say.
Freeman does a fine job in his role...but he's had enough practice don't ya think ("Kiss The Girls", "Seven"). Potter, though at first seemed only cast for her pretty face, really pulls off her role well-I have to admit that I was surprised and as a results she's chalked up a few points in my book.
Recommendation: This film is interesting, suspenseful, and well worth the watch. The people I've spoken with have given it mixed reviews. Like it or not (you'll probably like it unless you have ESP like my Mom...she always figures out the who-done-it's before she even sees the film...well, that what SHE says) you'll have a strong opinion and it will give you lots of fuel for debate. "Along Came A Spider" is no "Silence of the Lambs", but to give it a little more credit...it's also no "Kiss the Girls" (and I mean that in a good way). You'll be thinking about this movie long after the final credits have rolled (check out the credits for "man who can't answer the phone" and "potentially evil guy on train", I'm serious!).
on April 9, 2002
"Along Came a Spider" (2001)
I'm a big fan of James Patterson novels. I enjoy the mystery and intelligence he puts into his books. I also highly enjoyed the adaptation of his book Kiss the Girls, which was put on the screen in 1997. Along Came a Spider is one of Patterson's most acclaimed novels, and it would be a hard job putting it on screen without some criticism. I agree with many critics that the movie could've been improved, but I still enjoyed this thrill ride.
Morgan Freeman returns as Alex Cross, and yet again he embodies this fantastic detective with a style so strong and cool, and this is especially impressive for Freeman's age. Ashley Judd from Kiss the Girls is replaced by Monica Potter, who does nowhere as good as Judd's Oscar-worthy breakthrough, but Potter does make for an impressive and interestingly played sidekick to Freeman's Cross. The rest of the actors are merely okay, and pretty much there just to black up Freeman and Potter.
The movie kick starts to an impressive and intriguing first half. In particular the first five minutes are amazingly action-packed (especially for such a small amount of time!) and get the movie on a good action feel. This movie actually moves a lot quicker than Kiss the Girls, but unfortunately doesn't build up as much atmosphere or have enough character development. Unfortunately as the movie brings a fabulous first half, the second half is not nearly as believable or interesting, unlike Kiss the Girls (yes, I know there are too many comparisons in this review) which went the opposite way around, and worked much better. The actual finale you don't see coming at all throughout the movie and is very clever, but the stuff in between the first half and final few shots is frankly pretty...
The movie is also let down by some inexcusably silly scenes (Soneji parks the boat, tries to get this Dimitri kid, Potter and Freeman see him, don't shoot, and then just let him go? Is that what a real detective would do in this situation?). The kids in this movie weren't as annoying as I thought they would be (the young girl who is kidnapped is actually a very good actress, despite her horrible performance in Riding in Cars With Boys), but they are just way too smart. I didn't believe for one second that they could decode computers, make a fire burn with something electronic, or figure out completely mind-boggling puzzles.
Another thing that got on my nerves was the usage of cell phones in the film! In one sequence, there are about 7 different conversations all used over different cell phones. The sequence in which I am talking about, is when Soneji (the kidnapper) plays his cat-and-mouse game with Cross, and makes him run here, there and everywhere. If I was a detective in his situation, I wouldn't exactly do everything the kidnapper was telling me (Cross, of course, does this, which proves a tense atmosphere, but an unrealistic backbone). Especially when the kidnapper can't see him?
There is no lack of suspense in the film, the performances are good, the opening use of CGI is fabulous and the direction is spot-on excellent. I did find too many flaws to give this an above-average rating and fans of Patterson may be disappointed, but I can recommend Along Came a Spider for a late night suspense thriller.
MY GRADE: C+
on March 11, 2002
I was really excited to see this movie, cause I'm a huge James Patterson fan and I love his Alex Cross novels. And in my opinion "Along Came a Spider" is his best Alex Cross novel and his first Alex Cross novel. After "Kiss the Girls" was made into a remarkable movie I couldn't wait to see what they would do with this and I was, to say the least, extremely disappointed.
I can't completely judge the movie without being totally biased cause the book is just sooooo much better. The movie is ok and the people I saw it with liked it, those who hadn't read the book. But why they changed as much as they did and created a faulty storyline from a master plan, the book, is beyond me. The book is so much more complex and deep and requires a lot more thinking than this film allows. It's unsurprising twists make a joke out of the intelligence the book offers.
I do wish film makers would take into consideration the merits of the book. If a book is a huge bestseller don't make a movie out of it that changes the story cause most likely your story won't be better.
I will say Morgen Freeman is a great actor and I love watching him and he's good in this, but better in "Kiss the Girls." Now I just pray the movie makers leave Alex Cross alone unless they stick to the books.
on March 5, 2002
In my opinion, Morgan Freeman is THE ideal actor for playing a detective. I think "Seven" alone proves his ability to play a believable crime detective quite well. "Kiss The Girls" was no exception, and niether is "Along Came A Spider." Freeman returns to his character of Alex Cross from "Kiss The Girls" and still does an awesome job in this one, but I'm afraid even Morgan Freeman couldn't have saved this one. Infact, without him this film probably would've been worse. "Along Came A Spider" definitly lacks the intrigue of other Freeman crime movies. This one just failed to capture my interest. I think the problem was that I was used to the creepy environments and the brutal murders that were strong in the previous Freeman movies. This one just lacked all that and the mystery. The many twists and turns at the end were definitly good and not obviously lead into, but still didn't make up for this movie's sluggishly methodical plot that is like most "Law & Order" episodes.
"Detective" films can be traps for the unwary. A particular role can overwhelm the story, or the story can be so convoluted as to leave the actors no room to maneuver. Spider comes closer to the second option. The film's plot concerns the kidnapping of a Senator's daughter from a high tone prep school. There are Secret Service types all over the place [including one in background reading a magazine, which is hilarious in itself], and the one in charge, Monica Potter, roundly berates herself for failing to prevent the snatch. The kidnapper, who's not a child abuser, has taken the kid in a bid to match wits with Morgan Freeman, "perp" analyst Alex Cross. Can the kidnapper keep Mika Boorem alive and well, while crossing psychic swords with Freeman yet still pull this caper off? Will Freeman make a pass at Potter to salve the loss of his partner?
It's both fascinating and depressing to watch how one performer of style and class can nearly redeem an inadequately structured film. In Spider, Morgan Freeman, who has a full payload of both, is in a position to keep this film together, but isn't allowed to do it. In his role, Freeman must be able to weave tenuous threads to create personality profiles in narrowing down suspect lists. While there's little doubt Freeman could portray such a role with ease, we aren't really allowed to watch the process unfold in Spider. Director Tamahori, however, is too busy weaving his own threads.
In Tamahori's hands, James Patterson's novel becomes a jerky sequence of thinly connected scenarios. The plot, which is full of wonderful surprises, follows multiple paths. Like any spider's web, they only meet at the centre after some rather bouncy progress. Boorem makes a praiseworthy effort to steal the film with her escape attempts. Potter is fetching enough to distract from her mediocre acting. Michael Wincott as the kidnapper might have been an excellent foil for Freeman, but the story won't let him. The story won't let any one individual become outstanding. On the other hand, the film is too short to let the story develop fully. We are left with a tantalizing result: a plot rich with promise, but too sketchy in its presentation, and actors who might have given award-winning performances had they been given the opportunity to develop the characters. It's a shame, but you can't award stars for the things that didn't happen.
Like so many detective films, there are numerous details that intrude on credibility. How the kidnapper prepared for the snatch is easily the most astounding. His "hideout" was positioned solely to create a crisis. If he's intelligent enough to read and understand Cross' books, his blunders are inexcusable. Without giving away the ransom payoff, someone please explain how the material was to be disposed of without detection. What steps does Freeman take to work out who the villain is? These quirks catch the viewer's attention, distracting from the film's value and the protagonists' performance. The film is easily worth a viewing or two, but to buy it? It's your money . . .