Along Came a Spider

Morgan Freeman reprises his Kiss the Girls role as Alex Cross, police detective and criminal profiler. After losing his partner in a wild chase (which is loaded with bad special effects but is fun to watch), Cross goes into semi-retirement, emerging only after the young daughter of a state senator is kidnapped by a crazed teacher (Michael Wincott).

Cross is, in fact, lured into the case directly by the kidnapper himself, who apparently wants to turn the case into the crime of the century. The detective teams up with a young secret service agent (Monica Potter) to track down the kidnapper before the girl dies, and intrigue ensues.

What's astonishing about Along Came a Spider is that we are given a seemingly brilliant criminal profiler... but we don't get to see him really figure anything out. One of the joys of a detective story is watching our hero put the pieces together using logic, elementary deduction, and craftiness. (Kurosawa's High and Low is an excellent example.) In this film, however, most of the big discoveries are made using imaginary high tech equipment or convenient guesswork.

Worse still, almost none of it even matters to the story as a whole. Loose ends abound: they discover the kidnapper's real identity, yet they refer to him by his assumed name throughout the rest of the story. The kidnapper worked as a teacher at the little girl's school for two years, yet nobody knew anything about him, including where he lived. The filmmakers hope you will forget all this after one major shockeroo plot twist near the end. After you gasp, however, you quickly realize that even that has no basis in logic. It's just more silliness.

Freeman at least puts in a decent performance. The inherently creepy Wincott tries hard, but is mostly wasted as the desperate kidnapper. Potter is merely a short, blonde Julia Roberts clone. As for director Lee Tamahori, his hack work here could be anybody's. Along Came a Spider is an entirely skippable movie.