Published Apr 01, 2001Although billed as a prequel to "Kiss the Girls," there's no actual prequel quality to Lee Tamahori's "Along Came A Spider." There's no further insight or character development made. In fact, the sequences of "Spider" could just as easily have been placed later in time, and the movie could just as easily have been called a sequel. But perhaps a more fitting label might have been a very loosely based remake, since many of the elements and plot turns and twists are the same.
"Along Came A Spider" also doesn't do a very good job of fulfilling its ostensible role as a thriller. There isn't much about the movie that thrills. Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman), who is getting over the death of his partner, for which he feels responsible, is pulled into investigating the kidnapping of a young school girl from a top-notch, high-security private school for kids of the rich and famous. He is pulled into the investigation by the kidnapper himself (Michael Wincott), a methodical and patient man who has spent about three years pretending to be a teacher in order to plan the kidnapping. But after the initial phone call that Soneji, the kidnapper, makes to Cross, the relationship between the two, which might have added some interesting elements to the film, is completely dropped.
It's difficult to write about a film like this, because just about the only mildly interesting - though ultimately manipulative and more than slightly unbelievable - aspect of the film is a plot twist that happens at the end. But to talk about it in any detail would be to give away the goods.
Just about the only thing the movie does have going for it is Morgan Freeman, who plays alongside a rather stony Monica Potter who stars as the special agent in charge of protecting the students. Freeman is a subtle and engaging actor who commands attention whenever he steps onto the screen. It's hard to believe this movie is the work of Tamahori, whose 1994 film "Once Were Warriors" was such a moving piece.