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In light of the recent car crash of a movie "Alex Cross", I thought I'd go back and revisit the second of the three Cross films. Whilst this is a sequel, it actually came before the original film "Kiss The Girls" in James Patterson's original series of books. Thankfully, the film never addresses the timeline, and carries no excess from the previous less thrilling film. Therefore, it makes not a bit of difference to the plot or the character of Alex who is nursing a great hangover from the death of his partner in the opening section of this film.
Alex Cross' somewhat tortured retirement is brought to an abrupt end when he is pulled into the investigation of a missing child. The girl, Megan, is the daughter of the US Senator, and has been kidnapped by a mad man posing as her genial school teacher. Teaming up with an ambitious FBI agent, Cross becomes the main communication portal between the kidnapper and a team of specialists drafted in to ensure the safe return of Megan. As more clues are hand delivered to him, though, it appears that the kidnapper's motives are more about notoriety than financial.
Cross finds himself in further danger though, when the kidnapper apparently contacts him and makes his demands. He, and his special agent sidekick, attempt to make the drop in exchange for the girl, but soon find that the demands might not be coming solely from the man who holds the girl hostage. Cross soon finds himself in a web of deceit that endangers himself, everybody around him, and infuriates the kidnapper whose sole purpose is to be recognised for a copycat crime nearly a hundred years old.
Lee Tamahori's fast paced film slices off the fat of James Patterson's patchy novel, making this a much swifter and action packed thriller. A whole last act is sliced off in favour of wrapping the finale up in a neat and thrilling box. The action sequences are deftly handled, yet never compromise the integrity of this believable crime thriller that puts the development of its characters and plot first. There are moments of disbelief, and you'll be hard pressed not to find the creepy revelation about Megan's teacher a little far fetched.
Morgan Freeman is delightful as always. He is an actor who rarely fails to impress, regardless of how good or how poor the material is. There is something reverential about him, whether he is playing the con next door in The Shawshank Redemption, or the President of America in Deep Impact (Obama, the first black president? Not in the fictional world of Hollywood.), and even in this film where he is knee deep in guilt and cornered off from the world, he still takes command of the screen.
There are few actors who ooze creepiness in quite the same way as Michael Wincott. With and without the weird prosthetics, there is something vaguely, then ultimately sinister about him. To an unknowing eye, as many of the characters initially are, he is a gentle intelligent man with a soft voice and unremarkable appearance. Stripped off his earlier incarnation, his powerful jaw-line, soulless eyes and still soft voice make him the most malevolent type of monster you can commit to this type of movie.
Other performances are less notable, especially Monica Potter, who has a big part to play. Thankfully, she is in the realm of giant's, and goes relatively unnoticed in her wooden one note performance. Her lacklustre performance is a tiny kink in the armour of a film that is solid, relentlessly paced, and excellently scripted. Patterson's source material is a riveting read, if a little wearing, and its nice that this film captures the essence of that without feeling the need to recite the whole sordid lengthy tale verbatim.
Okay apparently the headline of this review isn't clear enough.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. HENCE THE LITTLE ** AROUND THE WORD IN THE TITLE. THIS REVIEW WILL GIVE AWAY SOME PARTS OF THE FILM. HENCE THE USE OF THE WORD SPOILERS.
This review is purely of the film as I doubt I'll ever own the DVD.
I recorded this when it was shown on freeview as I'm a huge fan of James Patterson Alex Cross novels and this is the adaptation of the first book in the series.
I spent the whole duration of the film pointing out it's flaws. It could quite honestly be the worst book adaptation film I've ever seen. I understand that certain creative freedom has to be applied when writing a screenplay, but to change an entire character and the world he inhabits is just wrong. As a stand alone movie having not read the book I have no doubt a viewer would find it enjoyable, it does after all star the legend that is Morgan Freeman and Monica Potter plays his female 'side kick' who bears more than a striking resemblance to a young blonde Julia Roberts.
Okay, I'm going to prewarn you the rant that is to follow may contain spoilers and it's aimed purely at James Patterson/Alex Cross fans like myself, those of us who devour the novels and adore the character and all that he's been through. So if you're not one of those you probably just want to click away now, the rant does not apply to you or your enjoyment of the film. As a stand alone thriller it ticks all the neccesary boxes and is worth a watch. What follows is for die hard fans.
Okay, now I'm left alone with the other Alex Cross bibliophiles like myself. So between the six of us (!) do not watch this film. You will not be able to watch this film without irritating everyone in the room and losing a little respect for James Patterson.
Alex Cross has no children.
Alex Cross has no dead wife.
Alex Cross has no nana.
Alex Cross has no SAMPSON!
Sonjei is completly and utterly wrong. It's all just wrong.
They took a character we all loved and took away everything that made us love him! So all we're left with is a character that even Morgan Freeman can't quite fill out enough for me to care about.
It's been a while since I've read Along came a spider but I'm also pretty certain the woman in the book is black, if I'm right it's not a major issue that she was changed to white in the film but when you add that to everything else it becomes really frustrating.
I can see why they only made two films. Having left out such a massive part of Alex Cross' character and world where could they go from here? In the next few books his family and friends and dead wife and Sonji all become important parts of the story. They really shot themselves in the foot with their creative liberties.
All in all like I've stated twice now this film is a very entertaining stand alone thriller, but if you've read the books expect nothing but dissapointment.
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
It's surprising to see how forgiving Dooyoo users have been to Along Came a Spider. I don't understand how must viewers can overlook its glaring flaws, not to mention its downright insulting plot that plays out like a made for TV thriller but with better actors. Morgan Freeman should be ashamed, for this film, which is based on the 1993 novel of the same title by James Patterson and was the first of the Alex Cross novels, is a limp film despite its literary origins.
The plot is cliched from word one; it involves a forensic psychologist named Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman), who has retired from the force after the death of his partner. However, he is coaxed back into it when the daughter of a senator, Megan Rose (Mika Boorem), is kidnapped by a teacher gone mad named Gary Soneji (Michael Wincott). Cross has to team up with a Secret Service agent, Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter), who has been blamed for letting the girl out of her sight.
The film has a very poor scene to begin with, as a car crashes and is composed entirely of CGI; I have to ask - WHY NOT JUST CRASH A CAR!? It sets a sour tone for what begins poorly and ends even worse, with a mind-numbingly dumb twist that makes me wish I could un-watch this film. Along Came A Spider starts off promisingly, for all of two minutes before a car crash is made almost entirely of terrible CGI, and the rest of the film leads us up to a horrendously bad twist that made me lose complete faith in this being anything other than bad. One of the worst films of the 00s and a downright squandering of its otherwise talented cast.
This movie is an adaptation of a novel by James Patterson, has a fast-paced screenplay by Marc Moss and was produced by Joe Wizan and David Brown. Photography was by Matthew F. Leonetti, and the music by Jerry Goldstein.
Starring Morgan Freeman (who I think he is an incredible actor and could watch all day) as Dr. Alex Cross, a detective who is suffering from the loss of a partner and seems to have had a bad time of it for a few months. What I like most about Morgan Freeman is his ability to get inside his characters and make them become real. In "Along Came A Spider", he did not let me down, but I feel had to share the accolade for the best actor in the movie with a young girl named Mika Booren, who played Megan Rose. Expect to see more of this child in the future, she has start quality.
Megan Rose (the very charming and incredible actress, Mika Booren) is a bright little girl who is used to imbedding secret messages in pictures to a classmate who is the son of the Russian President. Despite Secret Service protection, this daughter of Senator Rose (Michael Moriarty) is kidnapped. Michael Wincott plays her teacher, Gary Soneji, who is not all he seems to be.
But then again, he is not the only one, apparently.
Megan is held by her kidnapper on his boat, the C-Dreamer, who toys and taunts Alex Cross by disguised telephone calls. Dr. Cross realises that this is all part of a game in the kidnappers mind, and one in which they have to play along. He profiles the kidnapper and makes certain assumptions, only to be caught unawares when the kidnapper apparently changes tactics.
Mika Booren gives a very real portrayal of the ingenious little girl who is kidnapped, and her array of emotions is spectacular. I was very impressed at the talent in one so young.
Eye candy comes along in the form of Jezzie Flanagan, played by Monica Potter, a young Secret Service agent at the school that Megan attended, who begs Dr. Cross to allow her to help him find Megan. She looks like a blonde Sandra Bullock, and has those expressive doe-like eyes that can tear at a moments notice. She and Dr. Cross pursue the kidnapper in the hope of finding Megan Rose.
As I said though, there are plenty of twists and turns in this movie and this does not tell you the whole story. For that, you will have to settle back with the popcorn and watch for yourself, but I do not think you will be disappointed.
The only let-down was the special effects at the beginning of this, other than that, this movie is brilliant!
Along Came A Spider starts off with Alex Cross who is a homicide detective and forensic psychologist in Washington D.C. Alex is still suffering some mental anguish over the recent loss of his partner, and actually gets pulled into an investigation by a personal call from the kidnapper. The kidnapper is known to us early on in the movie (Gary Murphy who is disguising himself as a teacher named Gary Soneji) and Alex teams up with Jezzie Flannigan (played by Monica Potter) who is one of the secret service agents assigned to protect the kidnaped daughter of a congressman. I don't want to spin out the whole story so let's highlight some of it.
Alex Cross and the movie Along Came A Spider are based on the novel written by James Patterson and is actually the first in a series of Alex Cross novels that become very popular. Writer Marc Moss does the screenplay and Lee Tamahori directs the film. In my opinion a lot get's changed around and omitted in the process of turning the novel into a movie but even with the changes the movie still manages to keep a somewhat twisting plot. A lot of the details of Alex's life and details that will support the later series are left out and I guess that is all right since the movie not being made for a sequel to follow.
Morgan Freeman plays our detective Alex Cross and does a wonderful job of bringing this character to life. Monica Potter does a great job as supporting actress playing Jezzie Flannigan and Michael Wincott is a fine fit for the kidnapper Gary Soneji. This movie leans heavily on this trio to get us through with what I would say is minimal help from the rest of the cast. Undaunted, Morgan Freeman delivers his usual excellent performance and pulls this movie along mainly centered on himself.
I don't mean to say this is a poor movie because it is not. It is in fact a fairly good movie and one that if you get into it from the start will keep you in suspense throughout the whole movie. I have actually watched it about three times and enjoyed it every time. Most of the time it ruins the novel for me if I see the movie first but in this case I can actually say that if you are a book reader then you will still find the book entertaining after seeing this film.
I will give this movie an above average rating because it kept me entertained but I won't go all out and give it a higher rating because I think it could have used a little more detail. Maybe the complexity of the book just made me look for more in the movie. I will just have to let you decide.
This is pure Morgan Freeman, of late. He seems to be slipping himself into retirement by inches, typecast as the worldweary cop with too much emotional baggage and a line in psychology. He is reprising an earlier character, you could argue, but given that he seems to play the same character ad infinitum these days, I really couldn't distinguish him.
That said, the support cast is excellent, and they add a youthful presence to Freeman's 'elder statesman.' The plot is a tad sluggish, but some appropriately tense moments serve to kick it along at pace. As the 'little girl kidnapped' story develops, twist by twisty twist, you really do get sucked in. Then the final reel sticks a pillow on your face, and you wake up in an empty cinema, being prodded by an usher.
The finale undoes all the good work done by the first hour and a bit: It really feels as if it was rewritten to death, and after the twist-after-twist story, even the final surprise isn't very.
A great shame, because it could have been so much more than this DTV monstrosity. Mr Freeman, come in. Your time is up unless you stop rehashing Se7en.
Having read the original James Patterson book that this was based on and already seen the film to the sequel of this (Kiss the Girls), I got a copy of this as soon as it came out on DVD. I must admit that I didn't actually like the book of this but as I'd like the first film they did of the Detective Alex Cross series and am a fan of Morgan Freeman, I thought this would be worth watching too.
So Morgan Freeman is back as Alex Cross, only this time, it's technically to star in the first film! He's excellent as ever in this I must say. The story is all about serial killer Gary (the name doesn't sound so laughable in the film as I found it in the book) and the kidnap of a senator's daughter. There's only one real twist in this story but it's a good one when played out in style. Because the film's so much shorter than the book, the story works much better in this format.
The acting and the cast in this are both very good. There are no huge names apart from Morgan Freeman but everyone is very capable and professional. The woman who played Jezzie in this, Monica Potter, was a bit amateurish in places (like overdoing facial expressions) but she still wasn't a bad actor. Just a little bit forced in places which always lets a film down.
Those who haven't read the book should find the ending quite interesting. There really aren't any clues to give it away which I like. The only drawback to this is that you might suddenly think someone's turned two pages at once come the final fifteen minutes of the film as everything's wrapped up. The thirty minutes before the conclusion begins is a bit annoyingly suspenseful too but tolerably so.
I do recommend this film though I think three stars is a fair rating. I think the other film they've made based on this Alex Cross series by James Patterson ('Kiss the Girls') is much better. But I still think this is a three star film which is worth £3 next time you see it in a DVD sale.
Run Time: 98 minutes
Extras: Trailer, Making Of (not very good!)
I first saw Along Came a Spider at the cinema in Manchester because we had tickets to a special preview the week before it was released. However, what started as a free night out turned into one of my favourite movie watching occasions, and not just due to the monster Ben and Jerrys sundaes we picked up on the way in.
My usual preferred genre is comedy so this is not the sort of film I tend to watch. However, while this film is a thriller to use the production studios term, for the most part it is much more murder mystery Miss Marple style than huge action flick with lots of guns. There are some gorier scenes, some scarier ones and some more violent ones, but these do not make up the bulk of the film. Its gripping and intriguing without being petrifying, and I find I enjoy it so much more because of this.
The story involves the kidnapping of a congressmans daughter from right under the noses of the onsite secret service agents at her high-security private school. There is never any doubt as to the culprit is as the sole suspect is caught on camera moments before and after the incident and also soon makes himself known to the police. This is not a straightforward case of ransom though as the school girl is taken merely as a means to an end and that end, or the interpretation of it by the detectives, changes as the film progresses. There are also various sub-plots for example the politics of the FBI and the background to Alex Cross, the detective who plays the main role in solving the case.
The film is good, but its not perfect. One of the characters we are first introduced to is in disguise, and although this came as a surprise to me when I initially saw the film, when I later bought the DVD and re-watched it, it seemed fairly evident hes obviously much younger than his current look would suggest, and the facial hair just looks, well, fake. The story also has a lot of twists to it, some of which are utterly unexpected and some of which are not at parts during the film I felt I knew something was going to happen without being able to predict exactly what it would be. Also, the scene where Megan ends up swimming ashore to escape her kidnapper looks convincing the first time but decreasingly so on re-runs when you can tell the parts where shes crawling / kneeling under the water.
Though the cast list goes on for pages, 90% of the action involves only 10% of the characters (like NHS prescriptions 50% of people are exempt from paying, but in the end 85% of prescriptions are written for people who dont pay). Alex Cross, the battered, maybe even damaged detective is played by Morgan Freeman who, although a household name, is someone I had not come across before. Megan Rose, the kidnapee, is played by a young Mika Boorem who was relatively unknown at the time but has since gone on to appear in things such as Dawsons Creek and Sleepover. She seems to age during the film, but this is no doubt due to her change from school uniform to casual clothes and the increasingly adult attitude she has to develop as she fights to survive. Monica Potter, who has also gone up in the world since this was made, plays Jezzie Flannigan, the blonde in appearance but not in personality agent who is being held responsible for the kidnapping. Michael Wincott plays the villain, Mr Soneji, to perfection, but his trademark rasping voice (IMDBs words, not mine) doesnt really get a chance to be heard through his repeated use of a voice synthesizer.
There have been a number of vaguely similar films out in recent years, including Proof of Life and Man on Fire. I found both of these watchable, but not outstanding, and both veered more towards the violent side of crime than the intellectual one. Along Came a Spider is the opposite, with less of the first and lots of the second. It also has a more interesting setting the (fairly) civilised city of Washington compared to the wilds of Mexico and South America the other two favour. DC is not the sort of place normal Americans live as locals not ex-pats, and so the characters of the film are much more ordinary, and therefore identifiable with, than those in the other films.
I enjoyed the film because it makes me think and marvel at the ingenuity of it all. At times you end up appreciating the skill of the baddies because they are just so clever, even though you know you should not be condoning their behaviour. The film only gets 3 stars though for two reasons one, the flaws mentioned above, and two the extras on the DVD. It comes with nothing more than the theatrical trailer and a behind the scenes featurette which doesnt live up to usual standards for these things, as it is neither entertaining nor enlightening about what happened on the set). These things aside, a solid, enjoyable film, just try not to pay attention too much if you want to enjoy it fully.
Alex Cross was first seen on our screens in the 1997 thriller 'Kiss The Girls'. This movie was a serviceable entry into the genre which didn't really offer nothing more than the standard plot twists and intrigue. The movie was based on a book by Alex Patterson and 'Along Came A Spider' is another tale from the Alex Cross series of books. Morgan Freeman once again stars as Cross, the movie opens with a tense cliffhanger that causes Cross to move away from his work. However a year later he's brought back into the fold when the young daughter of a congressman is kidnapped. The abductor Gary Soneji (Micheal Wincott) contacts Cross and will only speak to him. Soon Cross is brought into to try and figure Soneji out and get him into the open. However what follows is a web of lies and double crosses, leading Cross into a bigger plot. This is a movie that once again is pretty standard thriller stuff. It's made well with very little in the way of thrills but nothing to really make you role your eyes. This is purely down to the performance of Morgan Freeman. This is an actor who will not give a duff performance and he is commanding in the role of Cross. Without him there wouldn't be anything in this film to really set it apart from your run of the mill thrillers that go straight to video. The supporting cast is well made up from the likes of Dylan Baker and Monica Potter, it's always enjoyable to see Wincott in a villain role as well. The film is well directed by Lee Tamahori, he treats the material with no real flash and just tell's it like it is. It must have impressed someone as his next film is the current 007 movie. The script is also a good adaptation and it must be comended for a having a few twists, I was suprised that Wincott was revealed very early on but then as the film progresses you are woken up to the fact that he's merely a pawn. This film is currently doing the rounds on Sky and i
s worth checking out if there's nothing else on. It's not a fantastic film but if you like assured thrillers that pass 90 minutes away then you vould do far worse.
It sounded like a good premise - evil mastermind plots to kidnap a child in order to secure a place in history for himself. He then challenges top profiler to find him and save the innocent child. SOME POINTS ARE ABOUT TO BE REVEALED! STOP READING IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW!!! Freemen plays the main role of Dr. Alex Cross - a police officer/criminal profiler/author. He is an excellent portrayer of understated emotion and control. He is not, however, given the opportunity to display any depth to this character. There is little to no development offered. Monica Potter plays the Secret Service agent assigned to the little girl (the daughter of an unknown Senator.) She reminds me a Julia Roberts if she were blonde and had some of the collagen sucked out of her lips. She plays the role well, but when she turns evil and nasty, we are given absolutely no reason as to why. There's no story behind this twist - no "Daddy hurt me," "Nobody loves me..." She's just bad. The main kidnapper (I can't remember his name) is a very talented actor who needs to find a better script. Now for the downside... You know that exciting crash scene in the trailer, which has a red convertible flying, end-over-end in an horrific accident? It's not in the film. We see Freemen in the beginning, with his wife(?) relaxing at home. We never see her or hear from her again. When it turns out that the kidnapper is really after the son of the Russian President (a friend of the little girl,) we never find out WHY THE SON OF THE RUSSIAN PRESIDENT IS ATTENDING AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN WASHINGTON D.C. A ransom is arranged when the trap to get the Russian kid fails. In a scene incredibly reminiscent of Die Hard 3, the ransom ($10 million in diamonds) is delivered. When Freeman confronts the kidnapper in Potter's home, he finds out that he never asked for the jewels. This scene is
clumsy because Freeman states it was a "$12 million gain," instead of $10 million, and instead of saying "What? I got no money!", the kidnapper, who never was involved in the ransom, merely mumbles, "$12 million." In the end, when Freeman finds the little girl and is going to bring her home, he says, "It's okay, I'm a police officer." This makes her feel better, for some reason, even though the two people who stole her from the kidnapper and tried to kill her were Secret Service agents with whom she'd spent the last two years. Basically, there were many holes in the plot through which you could drive a truck. It wasn't all that gripping, and even though the twists were there, they didn't make sense. On top of all this, the movie was just shy of 90 minutes. I think this one was released before it could mature.
Now see what's happened. After seeing two decent Hollywood releases at the cinema, which restored my faith in mainstream filmmaking, I decided to chance renting one on video. Having read stunning enthusiasm for James Patterson's book 'Along Came A Spider' on here, and knowing that the film followed a successful adaptation of another of Patterson's books, 'Kiss The Girls', I felt I'd be reasonably safe with this. I didn't expect too much, a reasonably involving story, some good acting from Morgan Freeman, a few twists, and a decent conclusion. What I didn't expect was the appalling mishmash of contrived plot turns, uninvolving and unconvincing characters and dialogue, and somnambulant acting that this film threw at me. This film is unrepentant garbage, spewing out ridiculous implausible twists, one after another - those plot diversions that the audience hasn't spotted before the film's main characters are so unlikely as to beggar belief. You see, what I didn't know was that James Patterson is, as Robert Wilonsky of the NYLA Times puts it, "to writing what Frank Sinatra was to feminism". This analogy makes a whole lot more sense when you've watched this shambolic mess of a movie, but hey, perhaps I should leave the criticism until I've told you about the plot... then I can dissect the movie in a more sustained way. THE PLOT (God help us all) As the film opens, we see detective Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) watch as his partner plunges to her doom over the edge of a dam, while working under cover. Cross blames himself, and is very upset (though you'd probably not get that impression from Freeman's acting in this movie - sorry, I'll leave off the criticism for now...). He takes to constructing little boats in bottles. Cross is pressed back into service when the daughter of a senator is kidnapped by a criminal, Gary Soneji (Michael Wincott), who ha
s been posing as a teacher for... well, actually, we're not sure how long he's been posing as a teacher, the film never makes that clear - it could be that he's worn that obviously fake beard and moustache for the last few years, and yet no-one's noticed it. Anyway, Megan (Mika Boorem), the senator's daughter, is kidnapped while she is supposedly under the watchful gaze of Secret Service agent Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter), who blames herself. We learn that Soneji is a lunatic who essentially just wants to make a name for himself in the history books - much like Mark David Chapman or Bruno Richard Hauptmann... you get the idea. However, surely merely kidnapping a senator's daughter isn't enough to get in the history books in this day and age - no, of course not, Soneji has his eye on a much larger prize... THE MOVIE It's difficult to know where to start in criticising the movie. Probably the most obvious target is the plot itself. I don't know about you, but with thrillers, I like to be able to guess the film's conclusion. I like it when all of the information is presented to the audience, and we can anticipate the conclusion from the clues we've been given. In 'Along Came A Spider' this is impossible - information is deliberately kept from the audience, and although the ultimate conclusion is guessable, it's only because the story is so astonishingly predictable and derivative. So essentially, the movie fails on two counts - it presents the audience with an unsolvable puzzle, but makes the solution easy to guess. Also, like many generic modern thrillers, the plot involves the internet at one point. As ever, the writers (whether it be Patterson or the film's scriptwriters) seem to have only the faintest of understandings about how the internet actually works. Someone has clearly mentioned to Patterson that it's possible to encode messages into graphic images, and t
hen perpetuate them over the internet, but clearly the conversation was just a brief one, because he clearly has little understanding of how such encryption would actually be carried out. To an extent, the book might have been able to bluff its way through this, as it never had to actually present the images, but in the movie the images have to be shown onscreen, leading to a bizarrely implausible sequence. Similarly, it seems odd that the killer creates the peculiar Lindbergh website that Cross surfs at one point in the movie for clues, a website protected by a single easily-guessable password no less. Sigh. Oh, and what sort of criminal mastermind leaves his kidnappee's coat at the scene of a crime? Why not just tell the police where you are? Possibly the most hackneyed section of the film is when Soneji forces Cross to dash about around Washington playing phone tag, a la 'Die Hard With A Vengeance' (or 'Dirty Harry', if your tastes are a little more refined). There's no reason for this, it advances the plot little, if at all, and just serves to make the viewer realise what a generic and uninspired bore this film really is. In fact, if it weren't for the presence of Morgan Freeman, you'd think you were watching a tedious episode of a TV cop show - perhaps one in the middle of a season, when even loyal viewers have started to lose interest. I mean, how much more generic can you get than teaming up two police officers (Cross and Flannigan) who are both feeling guilt about failing in their duties? Hey, but enough about the plot. You get the idea - this is mindless, generic, uninspired, illogical and clumsy. I don't think there's any silver lining to the storyline. So, how's the acting? In a word, abysmal. With only the one main star, Morgan Freeman, involved, you'd think he'd shine. Pah, dream on! Freeman only seems to perk up towards the end of the film, presumably after his pay
cheque had cleared. For most of the film, he seems to be half-asleep, barely reacting to anything going on around him. Now, I've seen him in 'Se7en', so I know he's capable of playing a thoughtful, introspective, laid-back detective, without seeming indifferent to the events going on around him. However, his performance here was exceptionally lacklustre and indifferent for the most part, producing an unconvincing and hollow effect. His co-star, if she can be called such, since despite appearing on the posters and video cover isn't actually named on them, Monica Potter, is equally drab and uninvolving as ahem... Jezzie... Flannigan. She's a poor man's Julia Roberts, if that helps to give you an idea of what to expect. Michael Wincott has the look of a typecast bad guy, and snarls his way through the role, exactly as you'd expect. He's not too bad, to be fair, but let's face it, if your character description doesn't extend beyond "generic villain", then it's none too hard to produce a decent performance. No, surprisingly, the one ray of hope for the film's acting is the young Mika Boorem, who manages to convey all the emotions as kidnap victim Megan, all the way from surprise to terror, with aplomb. Again, it's not a phenomenally demanding role, but she does what's necessary, and that's really enough to stand out in a film like this. The film's script is incredibly insipid, and overladen with plot exposition. Now, generally, excessive plot exposition would annoy me, but here it proved invaluable as it tried to patch together how Detective Cross leapt to the all-too-implausible conclusions that he did, and tried to disguise quite how unrealistic the film's coincidences really were. So, yes, the continual plot exposition was essential, but only because the structure of the film was so inept. "I think he's trying to tell us something." "
;He's playing some kind of game." Yawn. But what about the action? Surely if the acting, plot and script are all so bad, there must be some gun-totting, fast-paced action sequences to keep me on the edge of my seat? Um... well, don't hold your breath. The opening sequences are fast-paced and reasonably exciting, even if the actual effects are really that exciting by modern standards. Then there's a long wilderness period in the middle of the film where very little happens, and then at the end there's some chasing about. Overall, this isn't a white-knuckle zone. CONCLUSIONS If you have to see this film, my suggestion is to watch the first ten to fifteen minutes, then leave the room for about an hour, and come back for the last ten minutes. That way you get to avoid the ridiculous bolted-on subplots, the appallingly clumsy dialogue, and the hopelessly over-laboured investigation, jumping straight to the ultimate "surprising" revelation... which actually makes more sense if you haven't followed the film throughout. This truly is one of the most ineptly-made, tedious, hollow, uninspired and uninspiring films that I have sat through in months. Between the film's ridiculous and illogical plot, the actors' unenthusiastic performances, the dull pacing, and the insipid script, it's difficult to find anything to recommend about the film at all. Oh yes, I've thought of something, it's only 104 minutes long - relatively brief by current Hollywood trends. Mind you, it's still an hour and a half that you'll never get back. Read a book instead... just don't make it one of Patterson's.
Yes I know, it is 2.30AM and I should really be in bed as I wanted to hit Tempo first thing tomorrow (now this) morning as I heard on the radio that they're closing down. Let's see what time I get up in the morning. Oh, I also have to warn you that this is my first film op. I've just finished watching Along Came A Spider and I have to say, it's a film I enjoyed thoroughly. One of the main reasons for picking this off the shelf was the fact that it's got Morgan Freeman in it as another Crime/Thriller movie. I would say I'm a fan, but I'm not that dedicated towards anything really. It's also got Monica Potter in it, who's face seems familiar somehow, but can't quite place it. The Storyline ------------- The story starts in the opening sequence, which sets up the character that Morgan Freeman plays, Alex Cross. He's shown to be tracking someone that he's been profiling for a while, listening in to everything that's being said, stuck inside the back of van with headphone on. Typical kind of cop. Alex is a Psychological Profiler who basically profiles bad guys so that the good guys know exactly what they're looking for. Does a reasonable job too. Alex works with a partner, who is also featured in this opening sequence. As to how successful they are in this hoist... well... Anyway, The story then jumps into a school, which is impregnated with Secret Service men (and women, to remain politically correct). Here we find that a little girl (Megan), who happens to be the daughter of a Senator, is kidnapped. The story then unwinds as Morgan/Alex becomes involved, be it nonvoluntarily (is that a word?). The hunt is then on for the kidnapper as he seems to have left no clues in the wake of his crime but instead leaves teasers, as if to say, come and get me. The film is set at what I thought was a reasonable pace, not quite boring me at any moment in time. If I had been th
at bored, trust me, I would have nodded off. Check out the timestamp on this op! It definitely picks up in the latter half of the film too. Special Effects/Stunts/and all that Jazz ---------------------------------------- Don't expect much in the way of action for this movie. To be honest I can't really remember any. There are standard sort of gunfight scenes, but nothing spectacular. They do either bring you to the edge of your seat (well, not when in lying in the horizontal plane) or otherwise shock you as twists and turns in the plot expose themselves (ooer). I don't believe that I can say all that much more about this film really without giving it away. Like I said, as a fan of Morgan, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Sort of reminded me of Se7en as Morgan ponders and tries to get into the brain of the antagonist. Speaking of brains, you don't really have to have yours really switched on to watch this film. It was easy enough to follow, but beware, it wasn't that easily predictable. Course having said that, it's now going to become predictable... (Gee it's hard to write about a movie without giving stuff away. Don't think I'll try this again in a hurry.)
As some book readers might know 'Along Came a Spider' is another episode in a long line of Alex Cross novels written by the excellent author James Patterson. This one actually comes before Kiss The Girls in the Alex Cross series so it was a strange choice as the '2nd' film. There are a few subtle changes from the book - Megan Rose is now a Senator's daughter, rather than an actress's daughter. The second child involved is the son of the Russian ambassador rather than son of the Secretary of the Treasury. I have to admit, I think Morgan Freeman is a superb actor and makes an excellent Alex Cross. My only complaint would be the age factor - in the books Cross is supposed to be about 10-15 years younger than Morgan Freeman (Cross is described as 'like Muhammad Ali in his prime'). Although having seen him play the part twice I couldn't imagine anyone else doing it. Anyway the story is based around a serial killer who kidnaps the daughter of a senator (played by Michael Moriarty from the TV show Law & Order and his wife played by Penelope Ann Miller) and involves Alex Cross as a challenge to him to catch him. Cross is currently on leave due to the death of his wife. Gary Soneji played by Michael Wincott (The Crow, Robin Hood:Prince of Thieves) is convincing as the clever kidnapper/killer although he does come across as a little wimpy at times. He doesn't really seem evil enough to do what he is doing (the book portrays the character as the epitomy of evil, a cold-blooded serial killer) and missing out the initial murders from the story weakens his character a little. Monica Potter (from 'Con-Air' & 'Martha meet Frank, Daniel & Lawrence') plays the secret service detective (Jezzie Flanagan)responsible for Megan Rose's safety and at Cross' request becomes his partner in an attempt to track down the kidnapper. As with any James Patterson story, there
are numerous twists and I won't fill you in on them because it gives the whole thing away. As is usual with films of this nature a lot of changes are made to the book and makes me wonder if (or how) they will make any of the other Cross novels. The film itself is good, the car crash scene at the start looks a little false, but the rest of the action and chase scenes look realistic. The constant searching for clues and Cross' brilliance in spotting the tiny details is brought to light again and again. I would recommend this film, but if you've read the book it may leave you feeling a little unfulfilled at the end.
I have to admit to being a fan of James Patterson's Alex Cross novels. They are so easy to read that you can sit back and relax with your brain out of gear and still have a good time, but they are ultimately a little lightweight in detail, no matter how convoluted he tries to make the plots. Kiss The Girls was the first time we saw Alex Cross, and the same description could have been applied to that movie. Along Came A Spider is his secpnd movie appearance...and nothing has changed. The movie is good, but at the end when its all ironed out you'll wonder why all the twists and turns when the solution was a mere step away. The movie opens with a 'sting' being carried out on a serial killer. An undercover police woman wearing a wire is posing as his next victim, the passenger in his sports car which is being tailed by more plain clothes police and our hero detective Alex Cross in a chopper. The job goes wrong though when our killer discovers the wire and after a struggle loses control of the car leaving it teetering on the edge of an enormous precipice...it hangs just long enough for Cross to get there and see the terrified face of his colleague plunge over the edge... We cut again to a posh school where lots of rich kids are being educated and security is enormous. An American senator's daughter attends here but despite the security a teacher manages to kidnap her right from under the noses of the FBI agents and security staff. Our kidnapper turns out to be Gary Soneji who wants to emulate the Lindbergh kidnapping and is holding the girl to ransom...he also wants detective Cross in on the case because he knows he can figure out what he is doing and why he is doing it - he wants his crimes well documented. Cross, although officially still on leave after the botched sting from over a year ago and blaming himself is drawn into the affair, bringing with him FBI agent Jezzie whose job it was to have been to protect the girl at the scho
ol. The games have begun. Along Came A Spider has plot twist, after plot twist, after plot twist - in fact you could argue that it has one twist too many for its own good. However, no matter how convoluted the plot gets it is still easy to follow because Patterson's style is not to confuse with trivialities and over-complications but simply to entertain. This is brought through by the director here, so do not think that this is a movie which might lose you with its many twists and turns - it is not. To give this movie the highest accolade that you can give a thriller would be to say that it works, and not only does it work but it also remains believable. Sure, there are often holes in the script or general plot that you could drive a bus through, but these do not detract from the story or its believability, they are more 'missing' than out and out necessary for the plot to be held together. Of course there is one thing alone which does hold this movie together and that is Morgan Freeman. This guy is a fantastic actors - one of the very few who you can honestly say comes out with consistently top quality performances. Once again he does so here, and he does so with a supporting cast which is frankly not that good. Fortunately for them, he lifts their performance too when they are on screen with him, and that is an ability which I do not think any other actor I can think of has. Its a very good thing indeed for Monica Potter who plays Jezzie because her flat delivery would otherwise have garnered more criticism, she seems to liven up when on screen with him. The only other actor of any real note is Michael Wincott as Gary Soneji who seems to be carving a niche for himself as the 'bad guy' - see him also in The Crow and Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves. If you have read the book then do not expect to come into the movie knowing exactly what is going to happen and where or when it is going to happen or you will find y
ourself with a few surprises. The movie does not follow the plot of the book to the letter but instead adds its own spin on things. One thing which it does sadly do is remove a lot of the characterisation and gives us some rather flat characters. Morgan Freeman may be instantly likeable as Alex Cross, but he is NOT the Alex Cross we know from the novels. He has no close affinity with his family, which the novels will tell you is his main motivation for vying to rid the world of the scum which festers on it, we see his wife briefly and his children not at all. Soneji is a character who is hardly given anything more than an 'evil genius' tag and spends the rest of the time on the run and doublecrossing, and Jezzie...well, Jezzie is just 'flat' throughout. That is a shame because this could have been a much better movie than it turned out to be which is basically a good thriller, but one which seems to be held together solely by the talents of a Mr. Morgan Freeman, rather than a whole clutch of elements throuh which it ought to have made its mark. Hopefully in the future we might see a director who can bring us the 'real' Alex Cross in a movie adaptation, I know Freeman can do that, he just needs the script to work off. Along Came A Spider is then a good thriller but not a great thriller. It is a thriller which will intrigue you and hold your interest and one which doesn't leave you thinking "pah...that was far-fetched" at the end of it. It is however like a Chinese meal, deeply satisfying whilst you are into it, and then a few hours later it is like it had never been. Watch it for pure entertainment and then forget all about it.
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, Michael Wincott A sequel of sorts to "kiss The Girls", Morgan Freeman returns as Dr Alex Cross, Washington police detective and famed serial killer profiler. When Wincott's calculating baddie abducts a senator's young daughter from a private school under the watchful eye of CCTV cameras, bodyguards and secret service agents, cross is bought in to consult on the case. What follows is, initially, a reasonably taut game of cat and mouse as copper and criminal try to outwit one another.........until logic goes AWOL and the plot takes one to many twists. Teaming up with Monica Potter - the secret service agents who lost the kid in the first place - Freeman brings his usual class to an underwritten role, but ultimately the film falls flat - the probelm being less the execution than the material itself.
After an obligatory prologue in which its detective hero suffers a tragic professional setback, Along Came a Spider (based on the James Patterson novel) sets about its business of luring the viewer into its nefarious plot, relying on the magician's technique of misdirection to reveal a double-whammy surprise. The clever, late-coming plot twist is a bit too mechanical but effectively unexpected, making this a satisfying prequel to the hit thriller Kiss the Girls--based on the first) of Patterson's Alex Cross detective novels--and a welcomed addition to a promising movie franchise. It's no better or worse than a good vintage episode of Peter Falk's Columbo, adhering closely to the mystery-thriller's time-honoured traditions, but with Morgan Freeman settling comfortably into his role as seasoned sleuth Alex Cross, familiar formula is given fresh vitality. When a senator's daughter is kidnapped from her high-security private school, the kidnapper (nicely played by the underrated Michael Wincott) draws Cross into the case, knowing that the psychologist-detective's involvement will bring high-profile publicity. Cross partners with the Secret Service agent (Monica Potter) who botched her assignment, but wait... the movie's got a rabbit in its hat and that rabbit has an ace up its sleeve. Director Lee Tamahori (who brought similar intensity to The Edge) handles the sleight-of-hand with slick precision, dispensing just enough information to keep the viewer off guard without resorting to cheap manipulation. Don't look for much depth of character here, but Along Came a Spider is well served by everyone involved. It's the movie equivalent of a bestseller you'd impulsively buy at the grocery-store checkout, and on those terms it succeeds. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com