Wednesday 21 December 2022

Movie Review: Along Came A Spider (2001)

Genre: Crime Investigation Thriller
Director: Lee Tamahori
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, Michael Wincott, and Dylan Baker
Running Time: 103 minutes

Synopsis: In Washington DC, senator's daughter Megan Rose (Mika Boorem) is kidnapped from her school by a villain pretending to be teacher Gary Soneji (Michael Wincott). Secret Service agent Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter) teams up with semi-retired criminal profiler Dr. Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) to track down the kidnapper. The pursuit will encounter many twists as Cross realizes Soneji is inspired by the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case and wants to achieve fame and notoriety.

What Works Well: This slick adaptation of the James Patterson novel enjoys Morgan Freeman's cerebral presence, and the first half oozes quality as a stimulating battle of wits unfolds with the requisite undercurrent of danger. Michael Wincott creates a worthwhile bad guy, and the feisty Megan will not settle for the role of docile kidnap victim. A ransom drop-off sequence is a breathlessly good tour of Washington DC landmarks.

What Does Not Work As Well: Tamahori ironically loses steam as the story starts to navigate several sharp twists in a clumsy search for elusive noir shadings. By the third act all the careful foundations have been discarded in favour of alternate, and superficially treated, agendas. Monica Potter is not quite up to the task of portraying a complex character battling to save her professional reputation. And the opening prologue summarizing the botched case that derailed Cross' career features unforgettably atrocious CGI.

Conclusion: Promising investigative work is undermined by shallow contortions.

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