Along Came a Spider is a major disappointment to anyone who has followed James Patterson’s “Detective Alex Cross” series.Even though I hardly remember the book any longer, I do remember enough to know that it has been altered to a manky, boring and generic detective movie. Cinematically, it is the sequel to 1997’s Kiss the Girls, though the books went the other way. While the casting of Morgan Freeman posed some problems in Kiss the Girls (mainly due to age; Denzel was always my candidate), he didn’t end up too handicapped. But his age isn’t even the beginning of what was altered in this kidnapping caper. The actual investigation taking place here is the kidnapping of Megan Rose, daughter of a D.C. political figure, by one of her teachers. (In the novel, Megan was Maggie, and there was another boy kidnapped with her too.) Barely following a bit of the framework, the movie forks off onto its own the rest of the way, in addition to its own prologue — a big, loud and even somewhat thrilling car crash. Soon, the teacher is peeling off the obvious prosthetic make-up he was wearing, and “resuscitates” the semi-retired Cross (most of the characters say “Crosst,” with Monica Potter as the main perpetrator) to “find him.” He wants fame, he wants history — that much is retained from the novel — but everything else, including our little girl’s gallantry and pluckiness, is nothing more than a potboiler addend, and a cheap gimmick at that. Even for those who might not have read the book and instantaneously noted the decline of suspense, quality and knowledge of what was to be, the repetitive and commonplace usage of all of these clichés and twists is very noticeable. It’s a bad production, starting with the hack script by Marc Moss and the prolusive direction of Lee Tamahori. Along Came a Spider moves more to the pace of a snail, until the obligatory shoot-outs and shoot-ups. The strategy and methodology of the police and their actions, and the culprit(s) and his/their actions, is hokey, contrived and dull. Before this spider could even finish weaving its web, it was wiped away.
With Michael Wincott and Mika Boorem.[Not to be bothered with.]