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The Captive
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, November 27, 2014 - Edition No 925 

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ALONG CAME A SPIDER

SYNOPSIS:
A US senator's daughter, Megan Rose (Mika Boorem) is kidnapped by criminal mastermind Gary Soneji (Michael Wincott). Soneji is not out for ransom - his ambition is to be credited in history books with the "crime of the century". Washington, D.C. police detective and forensic psychologist Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) is lured out of retirement and joins Secret Service agent Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter) on the search for Soneji the missing child.

Along Came A Spider is a professionally executed police procedural given a touch of class by the presence of venerable Morgan Freeman. Reprising the character he played in Kiss The Girls (1997), Freeman (who also executive-produced) lends an authority to material that might otherwise have played just as well as a hard-edged cable movie. We trust Freeman wherever he goes - as the smart detective in Seven or the American President in Deep Impact - it's no different here as the reluctant Alex Cross gets drawn into a case worthy of his deductive skills. He's well-off for co-stars here, with Monica Potter convincing as the Secret Service agent responsible for the girl's safety and Michael Wincott oozing suitable menace as the bad guy with a gravel voice Keith Richards would be proud of. Director Lee Tamahori gives proceedings a polished look and extracts reasonable tension considering we know who the villain is straight away. Like me you might be jaded by too many brilliant criminals being pursued by equally cluey cops who always seem to spot that tiny corner of a photograph that busts the case wide open. Along Came A Spider isn't top of its class but does its primary job of keeping us intrigued until just about the end when the obligatory triple-reverse, hard to believe climax arrives. Even if it seems like we've seen it all before - the Dirty Harry inspired ransom runaround scene being a case in point - it's handled with enough precision on both sides of the camera to make it worthwhile, if not essential viewing.
Richard Kuipers

From its suspenseful opening credits, Lee Tamahoriís tv commercial-refined visual hand is evident (if thatís not too obtuse a way of putting it) as this kidnap thriller streaks along a high tension wire of action and character. Of course, in a major, slickly made studio picture these days, character carries less weight than the plot and the look, which perhaps explains why pretty Monica Potter gets to play such a tough cookie. And an implausible one, sad to say. We meet her as a Secret Service Agent minding a Senatorís daughter at a posh school. Dialogue references to her time there begin at five years and shrink to three and finally to two as the film progresses. But Potter is a fine actress and provides all she can within the confines of a script that has problems beyond continuity, in the occasional insult to our intelligence. I wonít instance the biggest such example as it will give away a key plot point, but suffice to say Potterís character is just a device, with little depth or credibility. Morgan Freeman, of course, carries the burden of both plot and character, to involve us as much as possible, which he does with consummate ease and professionalism. Michael Wincott is a good baddie, and little Mika Boorem is a terrific little star as the kidnapped kid. The upsides are a great Jerry Goldsmith score, excellent cinematography, robust direction that manages to lift the film to its genre-istic heights, and Ė thanks to the original book - a basically well constructed story with a couple of major twists.
Andrew L. Urban

Filled with breathtaking twists and revelations, Along Came a Spider is a ripper of a good yarn and darned good entertainment on all counts. There's action and tension from the very first frames, when the stunning opening sequence immediately sets the scene in this psychological thriller of substance. Lee Tamahori has gathered a talented team, including first time screenplay writer Marc Moss whose script is cohesive and intelligent, allowing Morgan Freeman the opportunity to really shine. It's about time this consummate actor was given the right showcase; here in this superior sequel to Kiss the Girls, Freeman is the pivot for the action. Just his presence elevates the film. In fact he makes us feel as though it's a more complete work than it may actually be. He affects a natural stillness and calmness that promotes total confidence; he IS Alex Cross. We always feel that Cross is a human being first and foremost Ė a detective second. 'We do what we are' he says with ambiguity. We are intrigued. The formula may not be new, but there are plenty of surprises; my heart pounded throughout, never knowing in which direction I would be taken. The cast is well balanced and Monica Potter once again shows that she is far more than just a pretty face. While she exudes a beauty-coated innocence, Potter is most credible in this complex dramatic role. Although it would be easy to pick some holes in the plot (wouldn't someone have noticed Soneji's rubbery features over some years?), I was happy to be totally immersed in the web, eager to be pulled in any which way. Michael Wincott is well cast as Soneji, while Mika Boorem (Mel Gibson's daughter in The Patriot) does a fine job as the young kidnap-victim. It's non stop action from start to finish and Jerry Goldsmith's relentless score pummels in time with our heart beats. Thought provoking and gripping, there are enough elements to engage throughout, while simultaneously watching the mastery of Morgan Freeman at work.
Louise Keller



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

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SPECIAL STREAMING VIDEO PRESENTATION

TRAILER

ALONG CAME A SPIDER (MA)
(US)

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

DIRECTOR: Lee Tamahori

PRODUCER: David Brown, Joe Wizan

SCRIPT: Marc Moss, (based on novel by James Patterson)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Matthew F. Leonetti

EDITOR: Nicolas De Toth, Neil Travis

MUSIC: Jerry Goldsmith, Mark Isham

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ida Random

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 16, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Pictures Video

VIDEO RELEASE: January 18, 2002







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