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Along Came a Spider

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Along Came a Spider

Starring: Monica Potter, Morgan Freeman
Director: Lee Tamahori
Rated: R
RunTime: 103 Minutes
Release Date: April 2001
Genre: Suspense

*Also starring: Michael Wincott, Jay O. Sanders, Dylan Baker, Raoul Ganeev, Billy Burke, Michael Moriarty, Penelope Ann Miller

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

In ALONG CAME A SPIDER, directed with fast-paced precision by Lee Tamahori (ONCE WERE WARRIORS), a senator's daughter, Megan Rose (Mika Boorem), is kidnapped from a prep school that is kept under tight Secret Service protection. Megan is one of many children of Washington's political class who attend the school. Among the many questions that the story poses is, why her? Another is why the kidnapper (Michael Wincott), who likes to leave clues, admits that he wants to prolong the hunt.

Morgan Freeman, repeating the role he played in the popular 1997 film KISS THE GIRLS, plays Washington, D.C. police detective and psychologist, Dr. Alex Cross. This time Alex reluctantly accepts Special Agent Jezzie Flannigan as his partner since she feels guilty after having been in charge of the Secret Service detachment at the school. Flannigan is rather well played by Monica Potter (PATCH ADAMS and HEAD OVER HEELS), an attractive and likable actress with very blonde hair, large eyes and lips, who up until now has delivered one bland performance after another. Under Tamahori's direction, she shows a more vulnerable and intelligent side that hasn't been seen much up until now. Maybe she's a late bloomer.

As the kidnapper plays Alex like a fiddle, Alex tries his best to keep up with the kidnapper's strategy, trying to find some way to get one step ahead of him. Freeman is nothing short of terrific again and is a real treat to watch. Unfortunately, many of the supporting cast aren't used as effectively. Dylan Baker is wasted as the briefly arrogant federal agent in charge of investigating the kidnapping. And Michael Moriarty ("Law and Order"), as Senator Rose, doesn't do much other than look anguished.

From the gripping action sequence that opens the movie until the last twist, director Tamahori keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Marc Moss's script, based on James Patterson's novel, provides some nice surprises but not so many that it gets ridiculous. Yes, there are probably plenty of logical problems with the story, but the film, to its credit, never goes into neutral, allowing the audience to begin thinking about any possible holes or implausibilities. The result is an entertaining film that makes you crave for the next time Morgan Freeman recreates his Detective Alex Cross character. I'm certainly ready.

ALONG CAME A SPIDER runs a brisk 1:44. It is rated R for violence and language and would be acceptable for most teenagers.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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