Along Came a Spider (2001)
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, Michael Wincott
Director: Lee Tamahori
Nutshell: Thriller where Morgan Freeman reprises his role from Kiss the Girls
Morgan Freeman reprise’s his role as uncanny detective Dr. Alex Cross in this prequel to the hit (and very drab) Kiss the Girls from a couple of years ago. In a riveting opening sequence we have Cross aerially tailing a deranged serial rapist using his partner as bait on the motorway below. It’s an exhilarating opening sequence and director Lee Tamahori manages to maintain similar momentum by wasting no time in diving right into action. Within moments of the opening sequence we have precocious mega-rich senators brood whisked away from an exclusive school for the children of the filthy rich and famous by nasty, latex mask wearing weirdo. Is it a sexual crime or is there something political cooking?
Alex Cross, still shell shocked by recent hardships and is reluctant to return to the fold, yet he finds himself being inexorably drawn to the abduction case that has his fellow officers in a flap. He joins up with Jezzie (Monica Potter) who has been downgraded due to her bungling of security leading to the abduction of the girl. Cross brings his sheer brilliance of mind to the case and its intriguing watching him deciphering little messages and finding meaning and tiny clues in things that mere mortals would overlook.
For the first hour or so the movie moves along at a fair pace, with not a dull moment, but the second half begins to run out of steam and ideas. The film manages to build considerable tension and work towards a crescendo but that climax when it arrives, falls way short of delivering and in fact manages to detract from what has come before. Morgan Freeman as ever, lends his immense screen presence to his role as the super sleuth and doesn’t put a foot wrong. He is a seasoned pro and this type of role fits him like a glove as he has shown countless times before. There is something very special about this actor that he is able time and again to rise well above his material. Once again he rescues a so-so film and elevates it to something a little bit more tolerable.
Monica Potter, the pretty blonde from Con Air (and Patch Adams) does a reasonable job as the side-kick and the villainous Michael Wincott also performs his role admirably. It’s really a most enjoyable thriller for three quarters of the way, and then it seems that the filmmakers had anxiety attacks about how to conclude the film effectively. This is where the job has been badly botched and just when the audience is anticipating a befitting climax to the intrigue that has gone before, all we get is an utterly contrived and ridiculous double-whammy twist that is meant to have us gasping in shock – yet the result is merely groan inducing!
Pity, as the film nearly works and is undone only by the weakness of the last half hour. One has seen a lot worse, and this does after all improve on its predecessor Kiss the Girls. By the way, don’t they have proper schools in Russia?