Profiling the Profiler
Along Came a Spider
Review by Ross Anthony

Though a web is one of nature's most fascinating spectacles, watching a spider weave one can be less than thrilling. "Along Came a Spider" indulges itself too long in weaving before substantially engaging in thrill. Though the opening sequence will stop your breath and two or three action punctuations rock, this movie doesn't really open up till twenty minutes to the end.

Morgan Freeman returns (from "Kiss the Girls") as cop psychologist; this time chosen by freaky kidnapper (Michael Wincott) to write the praises of his criminal genius into a book for all to remember. Secret Service agent Monica Potter teams up with Freeman after a senator's child gets snatched under her watch. Wincott is deliciously psychotic.

Though the film seems to go out of its way in order to sleepily chime every formula progression from every "intelligent criminal vs. smart cop" picture from Colombo to Hannibal, with less than a half hour left, it unfolds wildly -- one unpredicted twist after the other.

While the twists are tantalizing and surprising, they unfortunately belie the previous build of the story, diluting the climax. Character sympathy also seems elusive, save for a momentary but nonetheless heartfelt resolution. Part of the problem lies with Freeman's faultless bounce back into action. Improvements could have been made by adding pauses of self-doubt/insecurity and fear regarding his deceased partner and/or further discussions with his wife (who vanishes completely from the film after the first 10 minutes).

That said, aside from a drawn-out foot race where Freeman runs 5 miles and barely breaks a sweat, the action snaps sharply on the screen with a confident stride, well-timed adrenaline-pumping punch.

Incidentally, "Along Came a Spider" and "Kiss the Girls" are screen adaptations of a James Patterson series about detective Dr. Alex Cross (not to be confused with the comicbook artist and illustrator Alex Ross).

  • Along Came a Spider. Copyright © 2001. Rated R.
  • Starring Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, Michael Wincott, Penelope An Miller, Dylan Baker, Michael Moriarty, Mika Boorem, Jay O. Sanders, Billy Burke.
  • Directed by Lee Tamahori.
  • Screenplay by Marc Moss.
  • Produced by David Brown and Joe Wizan at Paramount/Phase 1/Reveations.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:21:14 PDT