Along Came A Spider

Along Came A Spider


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

If serial killers are the new rock'n'roll, Gary Soneji is heavy metal. It's not that he's particularly violent, preferring a neat hole in the head to anything messy like torture. He's cunning and smart and supremely arrogant, but there is a problem. He's nuts.

"I am living proof that the mind is a terrible thing," he says.

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Dr Alex Ross, a clever cop who writes books about the way mass murderers tick, is asked his opinion.

"I think you have a morbid desire to burn in hell."

Oops! He didn't like that.

Thrillers of this kind are beginning to look old-fashioned. The formula involves red herrings, naturally, and you can't trust anyone, even the FBI - especially the FBI. The balance between a genius killer who takes pleasure making the police look foolish and a lone detective who works it out for himself and survives that final confrontation is incredibly delicate. At the moment, due to the popularity of the genre, writers feel obliged to twist stories into impossible knots to give them an edge over the last loony-with-a-cleaver flick.

Soneji's motive is odd. He wants recognition, rather than riches. Obsessed with the Lindburgh baby murder in the Thirties, he is excited by the thought of being as famous. Also, he feels that Ross is a worthy antagonist, more of a challenge than those square heads at the precinct.

Morgan Freeman is the best man for the job. Ever since Seven, he has looked comfortable in the presence of evil.

This is his second outing as Ross. The first was in Kiss The Girls. He has grown accustomed to being right and carries an aura of conviction that would scare God. His partner is secret service agent Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter), an unusually attractive blonde, who manages to make a mess of most things, but when you're this pretty, it doesn't matter.

Soneji (Michael Wincott) kidnaps the daughter of a Senator and then calls Ross to taunt him with his success.

"He is like a spider," Ross tells Jezzie. "And I happen to like spiders."

It becomes a battle of wills between the cop and the crazy for the life of the girl, although lurking beneath such intimations of horror is a modicom of respect. But then it changes when a $10million ransom is demanded. Ross thinks, "Hang on, this doesn't feel right." Enter a shoal of herring stage left.

New Zealand director Lee Tamahori appreciates Freeman's cool style, while tightening the tension, especially during the ransom drop scenes when Ross races across Washington, DC, ending up on the subway with a thermos full of diamonds.

Typically, the denouement is beyond belief, but in other ways Along Came A Spider improves on Kiss The Girls. Ross has grown into a character of considerable interest.

Reviewed on: 03 May 2001
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Along Came A Spider packshot
Morgan freeman is back as cop Dr Alex Ross... this time on the trail of a nutty serial killer.
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Director: Lee Tamahori

Writer: Marc Ross, based on the novel by James Patterson

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, Michael Wincott, Penelope Ann Miller, Michael Moriarty, Mika Boorem

Year: 2000

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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