|Along Came a Spider
dir Lee Tamahori
scr Marc Moss
with Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, Michael Wincott, Mika Boorem, Penelope Ann Miller, Michael Moriarty, Dylan Baker, Joy O Sanders, Anton Yelchin, Billy Burke, Kimberly Hawthorne, Scott Heindl
release UK 6.Apr.01; 4.May.01
The only real connection to 1997's Kiss the Girls is the main character, Washington DC police profiler Alex Cross (Freeman). That and the same basic plot, which consists of a mastermind criminal and a clicking-timebomb kidnapping. Now retired, Cross is drawn into the new case by a brainy kidnapper (Wincott) who has nabbed the daughter (Boorem) of a Senator (Moriarty). The Secret Service agent (Potter) who was responsible for the girl's protection is helping Cross track the baddie. But who's really behind this increasingly complicated crime? Twists and turns ensue.
The title comes from the elaborate web the villain weaves around his kidnapping of this little Miss Muffett. Otherwise it's basically every cop thriller you've seen in the past five years ... and nothing more. Yes, it's efficiently made, directed with anonymous precision and a surprising lack of style by Tamahori. The acting is perfectly serviceable; Freeman is solid yet effortless even by his own understated standards, and Wincott gets the only role with any juice. All the references to the Lindbergh baby kidnapping are quite clever until the script abandons this intriguing connection in lieu of the usual shock revelations. In the end, the story's many twists and turns both increase our enjoyment and strain the film's credibility. For all the machinations, character surprises and such, the whole thing is merely adequate and not nearly as complex as it seems.