Along Came a Spider

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. This is a movie of cross, double cross, and triple cross. Suspend your disbelief boys and girls, you'll need to in order to get through this film. It plays out like "Kiss the Girls" and is coincidentally based on the book written by the same author (James Patterson).

The story is about the kidnapping of a little-known senator's daughter (Mika Booreem), who is kidnapped from her elite Washington, D.C. school by her computer teacher, Gary Soneji (Michael Wincott). Soneji fooled everyone (including the Secret Service) by wearing foam rubber disguises for nearly two years as part of an elaborate, and rather unbelievable plan. Of course investigators are asking "why" and initially conclude that money is the motive, but Soneji's true purpose is trying to attain infamy by committing the "crime of the century", taking his inspiration from the Lindbergh baby case.

In comes Dr. Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) who while he is building model ships as a way of dealing with his guilt over the loss of his partner (who was a casualty of the excessively created opening scene), is contacted by Soneji. Cross comes out of retirement (read: brooding) to take on the case in which he has been involuntary drawn into. Cross travels to the home of Senator Rose (Michael Moriaty) where he meets Secret Service Agent Jezzie Flannigan, (fresh-faced Monica Potter), the agent in charge at the time of the child heist, who is being denigrated by FBI lead investigator Ollie McArthur (Dylan Baker) for allowing the abduction to take place right under her nose.

Cross and Flannigan team up to recover the pilfered child, but quickly suspect that the kidnapping of Rose's daughter is simply a diversion and that Soneji has bigger fish to fry. They conduct a stakeout where they eventually clash with their man and afterwards the family gets an 'icy' ransom demand. Viewers get a mini tour of downtown D.C. as Cross goes on a scavenger hunt like journey to make the ransom drop.

To go any further at this point would give away the surprise ending via twists that hit you at every turn. The plot is as complex and sticky as a spider's web, and if the movie weren't as briskly paced and intriguing, you'd probably wonder how such an elaborate scheme would work out so smoothly. Although this is a great movie, (mainly because Freeman is the lead character) it is not without its flaws. The plot is riddled with loop holes, and when those seem to be closed, the subsequent explanations contain ambiguities of their own. There seems to be this "Enemy of the State" technology within the D.C. police department and the school where the child was taken, yet the feds were unable to trace phone calls and detect that Soneji was a fake. You have an astute and sharp-witted detective as Cross who is supposedly an imminent criminologist/psychologist but who misses some very basic elements of the crime. It is never clarified why Cross takes the death of his partner so hard.

Don't be surprised if you find yourself going back through the movie looking for clues to the ending, or talking with other movie goers asking "how did I miss that?" Despite all of the loopholes and logical errors in the film, the ending is the piece de resistance. Although there are many similarities between this movie and "Kiss the Girls" there is no comparison when it comes to the ending or the suspense. This is a magnificent film to get entangled in.

Billz Movie Worthiness Scale: B+

Billz Movie Worthiness Scale Values:

A = movie tickets and popcorn for 2 (about $40)
B = buy the DVD when it comes out ($25)
C = rent it
D = wait for it to be on cable/pay TV
E = wait for it to be on regular TV

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