Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Along Came a Spider

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Morgan Freeman, a diamond in the dust.
  • Morgan Freeman, a diamond in the dust.

A thriller? Don’t believe the hype. The few trickles of adrenaline Along Came a Spider squeezes out are diluted by novice screenwriter Marc Moss’ slack plotline, cardboard characterizations and the deadpan remains of director Lee Tamahori’s (The Edge, 1997) premature, opening visual flash. The only diamond in this movie of mostly dust is Morgan Freeman reprising his role in Kiss the Girls (1997) as forensic psychologist Detective Alex Cross.

Tamahori begins shooting off his biggest action set piece while the opening credits are still flashing. Cross’ ambitious setup of a suspected criminal Casanova goes terribly wrong as he watches his policewoman partner die in the aftermath of a spectacular car crash.

Eight months later, a phone call brings the traumatized detective off leave. Gary Soneji (Michael Wincott) is on the line. He’s just pulled off a one-man, Mission Impossible-style kidnapping of Sen. Thomas Dunne’s (Michael Moriarty) daughter, Megan (Mika Boorem) under the nose of Secret Service Agent Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter). But the young girl may be just a pawn to set up what Soneji plans to be the crime of the century, a game he only wants to play with the most worthy opponent, Cross.

The plot thickens — and knots. As Sir Walter Scott said, “O what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!” Moss’ first priority seems to be playing a game of tag with our expectations, which he mostly wins with deception pulling the unexpected out of his hat, undercutting logic, character and drama. But, like his villain, he’s not quite as clever as he thinks he is. Aided and abetted by Tamahori’s direction, Along Came a Spider collapses under its own weight.

Perhaps Moss could learn a lesson in weaving a story from Sir Walt.

E-mail James Keith La Croix at letters@metrotimes.com.

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