Along Came a Spider
- Morgan Freeman as Alex Cross
- Monica Potter as Jezzie Flanagan
- Michael Wincott as Gary Soneji
- Dylan Baker as Ollie McArthur
Alex Cross returns to the cinema screen, following his appearance in Kiss the Girls. Yet Along Came a Spider is not the best film as a thriller due to the way it slowly plays out and overload of twists that do it harm. Some shining moments are there, mainly an excellent Morgan Freeman and some good suspense. But sadly these traits are not enough to cover this leaky film that slowly falls apart.
Washington, D.C. Detective and forensic psychologist Alex Cross retires from the force after heading a sting operation that goes terribly wrong when his partner is killed. Feeling guilty for it despite it not being his fault, Alex retreats into himself while trying to come to terms with his emotions. Meanwhile, there is something in the works that will bring Alex back into the police work once more. It all begins with the kidnapping of Megan Rose, the daughter of a senator, from her prestigious school. The man who has kidnapped her is her teacher Gary Soneji, who has complex motives that he slowly teases out. He is the one who brings Alex back into the fold by contacting him and taunting him. Special Agent Jezzie Flanagan is held accountable for the breach in security as she was the one who was keeping watch over young Megan, and she is determined to find Megan out of guilt. Brought on to the case albeit with some reluctance, Alex partnered with Jezzie and with the aid of Detective Ollie McArthur, plunges into the complex case that shows that the kidnapping of Megan was just the tip of the iceberg for Soneji. Alex deduces that wants to be notorious for his crimes, but there are many other unanswered questions at play. A complex game is afoot now and Alex is determined to break it. Along with Jezzie , Alex sets out to uncover the motives and reasons before it is too late. But how can you catch a criminal who seemingly wants to be known but is effortless at being elusive?
The direction is the first part of the film that makes problematic probably the best word befitting of Along Came a Spider. Lee Tamahori doesn’t seem to know a thing about pacing a thriller, although he starts strong he can’t keep any momentum up. The film slowly descends into run of the mill shenanigans and even when it does have good parts, they are sadly overshadowed by the weaknesses of the plot. Like I said, there are some good moments of suspense generated. These consist of the opening in which the partner of Cross is killed after the operation goes awry and a rain-soaked set piece where Alex and Jezzie are confronted with Gary Soneji. These provide two highlights of a picture, that sadly lacks a punch. And with the script, I’m all for a few twists but Along Came a Spider tangles itself into oblivion with its attempts to be clever. I must say that I enjoyed Kiss the Girls better because its story kept you involved, whereas with this film it drifts away and becomes mundane. A score from Jerry Goldsmith, who is one of my favourite film composers, is appropriately suspenseful and imaginative, injecting the film with good helpings of both which the mixed movie requires.
As flawed and up and down as Along Came a Spider proves to be, Morgan Freeman portraying Alex Cross is simply brilliant. Freeman once more plays his part with a great deal of respect and shrewd intellect, as Alex is reluctantly drawn back into his job as detective by the quite baffling and twisting case presented to him. His gravity, quietly unassuming personality and keen insight of the character is what really keeps this movie going, even when it slips into contrivance and ridiculousness. Although I’ve seen Monica Potter in other good parts, her role as Jezzie Flanagan here is not one of them. The character is meant to be conflicted and guilt ridden, but she comes off as emotionless. Now I don’t know whether this is the fault of the script of Potter or the script, but the role just is not a good one. Even when later on they expand on her character, it’s too little too late. Michael Wincott is a lot more successful in his portrayal of the kidnapper Gary Soneji, who has motives that are hard to figure out. He isn’t an over the top villain, instead a quietly intelligent and often pitiful man with a warped world view. All of that is made clear and interesting due to Michael Wincott and his good work. In the main supporting part of the detective assigned to the case, Dylan Baker is given scant to do but remains quite memorable.
While the music, some tension and a reliable Morgan Freeman performance can be gleaned from Along Came a Spider, it is not enough to create something that will linger in the mind.