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ALONG CAME A SPIDER

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, Michael Wincott, Penelope Ann Miller, Michael Moriarty
Director: Lee Tamahori
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: Theatrical Trailer, Featurette
Length: 103 Minutes
Release Date: September 25, 2001

“His surveillance is better than ours.”

“He’s been at this for years…imagine the patience…the dedication.”

“You sound like an admirer.”

“Well he’s like a spider…and I happen to like spiders.”

Film ***

I have long been a fan of suspense thrillers, especially those adapted from best selling novels, because for some strange reason, they evoke an exuberant amount of tension and thrills when adapted to the screen. Having said that, I was sort of caught by surprise that I got my money’s worth with Along Came a Spider, which is somewhat of a sequel, or in this case a prequel if you base it on the order of the novels by James Patterson, to the 1997 thriller Kiss the Girls, which was a rare thriller that failed to impress me enormously, despite an intelligent performance by its lead star, Morgan Freeman. I found the plot of that movie to be nothing short of a tired serial killer formula, completely uninvolving, resulting in a typically boring Hollywood fare that paled in comparison to Freeman’s terrific work in David Fincher’s groundbreaking genre pic, Se7en, in 1995. This time around though, I was absolutely caught up in the web woven by Spider, which presents an increasingly complicated plotline, which is likely to catch you by surprise by the movie’s end.

Freeman, in terrific, purely unbreakable form, returns as forensic psychologist Dr. Alex Cross, who is stricken with guilt following the sudden death of a fellow cop, who was killed during an undercover assignment, which opens the movie with super stellar suspense. Cross is called in to help track the kidnapping of a senator’s daughter. The kidnapper himself (Michael Wincott) personally calls Alex up to request his participating in the pursuit, obviously staging a clever game with the authorities. Also helping out with the case is Secret Service agent Flannagan (Monica Potter), who works security at the school where the girl was kidnapped.

To explain certain plot details of a movie like Along Came a Spider would be very unethical of me as a serious film reviewer. Many suspense thrillers rely on continuous plot twists and turns to help maneuver the story, and injections of suspense. I will say that I was thoroughly entertained by the film’s ability to have you, the viewer, thinking the story is working in one direction, when all of a sudden, you get jerked unexpectedly in a whole different direction.

As I mentioned, Morgan Freeman is in top form and delivers his usual remarkable presence as the extremely intelligent Dr. Cross, and Monica Potter, a beauty of a face and a talented actress, proves to be an impressive rookie counterpart to the Freeman character, and I hope to see more films from the actress, who also appeared in the movies Con Air and Patch Adams.

Those who enjoyed Kiss the Girls are bound to enjoy this one, and even those who didn’t enjoy that movie should appreciate this movie even more, which was the surprising case for me.

Video ****

A sharp-as-can-be presentation from Paramount, which has become one of the top DVD making studios of recent times. The picture image is crisp and completely clear, even in it’s darker set areas. Colors are 100% alive and vibrant, too. A respectively outstanding transfer that can be easily added to the long list of great transfers from the studio.

Audio ****

A respectable job in the audio field, as well. The 5.1 presentation for Along Came a Spider, really shines when the movie boasts sudden jolts of suspense, which will likely make you jump out of your seat in some sequences. The pulse-pounding, tension filled score by Jerry Goldsmith also gets a wonderful presentation out of this enormously done audio job.

Features *1/2

A letdown following some impressive, extra loaded discs from the studio. All that is contained on this disc are a trailer and a brief behind the scenes documentary.

Summary:

A superior thriller and a very well executed package of suspenseful entertainment, Along Came a Spider is bound to impress and entertain all moviegoers looking for a chill and a thrill.