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Along Came a Spider

Promotional poster
Directed by Lee Tamahori
Produced by David Brown
Joe Wizan
Morgan Freeman
Marty Hornstein
Written by Marc Moss
Based on the novel by James Patterson
Starring Morgan Freeman
Monica Potter
Michael Wincott
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Matthew F. Leonetti
Editing by Neil Travis
Nicolas de Toth (addl)
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) April 6, 2001 (US)
Running time 103 minutes
Language English
Budget $28,000,000
Preceded by Kiss the Girls

Along Came a Spider is a 2001 American mystery film directed by Lee Tamahori. The screenplay by Marc Moss was adapted from the 1993 novel of the same title by James Patterson, but many of the key plot elements of the book were eliminated. This was the first book in Patterson's Alex Cross series, although the second one to be filmed, following Kiss the Girls in 1997.

Contents

Plot summary

After Washington, D.C. detective, forensic psychologist, and author Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) loses control of a sting operation, resulting in the death of his partner, he opts to retire from the force. He finds himself drawn back to police work when Megan Rose (Mika Boorem), the daughter of a United States senator, is kidnapped from her exclusive private school by computer science teacher Gary Soneji (Michael Wincott). Secret Service agent Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter), held responsible for the breach in security, joins forces with Cross to find the missing girl.

Soneji contacts Cross by phone and alerts him to the fact one of Megan's sneakers is in the detective's mailbox, proving he's the kidnapper. Cross deduces the man is obsessed with the 1932 Lindbergh kidnapping and hopes to become as infamous as Bruno Hauptmann by committing a new "Crime of the Century" that might be discussed by Cross in one of his true crime books. Megan's kidnapping proves to be only part of Soneji's real plan: to kidnap the son of the Russian president, guaranteeing himself greater infamy.

After Cross and Flannigan foil his second kidnapping plot, a supposed call from the kidnapper demands that Cross deliver a ransom of $10 million dollars in diamonds by following an intricate maze of calls made to public phone booths scattered throughout the city. Cross ultimately tosses the gems out the window of a rapidly moving Metro train to a figure standing by the tracks. When Soneji later arrives at Flannigan's home and confronts Cross after disabling Jezzie with a taser, the detective realizes the kidnapper is unaware of the ransom demand and delivery. Soneji tries to leave with Flannigan but Cross kills him.

Cross becomes suspicious and realizes that someone discovered Soneji long before his plot came to fruition. After searching Flannigan's home computer, he finds enough evidence to prove that Jezzie and her fellow Secret Service agent, Ben Devine (Billy Burke), used Soneji as a pawn in their own plot. He tracks them down to a secluded farmhouse, where Flannigan has murdered Devine and is now intent on eliminating Megan Rose. Cross saves Rose and shoots Flannigan in the heart, killing her.

Production

One of the primary elements of the book screenwriter Marc Moss eliminated from his script was the fact that Soneji is actually a mild-mannered suburban husband and father suffering from dissociative identity disorder resulting from having been abused as a child. After a lengthy trial for kidnapping and several murders not included in the film, he is found guilty but remanded to a mental institution to serve his sentence. Also missing from the film is a romantic relationship shared by Cross and Jezzie, her trial and eventual execution by lethal injection, and the discovery of Maggie, hidden away with a native Bolivian family near the Andes Mountains, two years after her kidnapping.

Box office

In the US, the film opened in 2,530 theaters and earned $16,712,407 in its opening weekend. It eventually grossed $74,078,174 in the US and $31,100,387 in international markets for a total box office of $105,178,561[1].

Cast

Critical reception

Along Came a Spider received a mostly negative response from critics. Elvis Mitchell of the New York Times called the film an "overplotted, hollow thriller, which crams in so much exposition that characters speak in fetid hunks for what seems like minutes at a time ... But Spider couldn't be better served than it is by Mr. Freeman, whose prickly smarts and silken impatience bring believability to a classless, underdeveloped thriller ... Still, he is wasted in this impersonal, barely ept thriller."[2]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times stated, "A few loopholes I can forgive. But when a plot is riddled with them, crippled by them, made implausible by them, as in Along Came a Spider, I get distracted. I'm wondering, since Dr. Alex Cross is so brilliant, how come he doesn't notice yawning logical holes in the very fabric of the story he's occupying? ... The film contains two kinds of loopholes: (1) Those that emerge when you think back on the plot, and (2) Those that seem like loopholes at the time, and then are explained by later developments that may contain loopholes of their own ... There are places in this movie you just can't get to from other places in this movie."[3]

Wesley Morris of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "Beyond the B-movie excursions that dry up after the first 20 minutes, Spider is a mess of motives left unclear and characters left dangling ... Tamahori has a tough time wringing a drop of original suspense from any of this stuff."[4]

Robert Koehler of Variety felt "the very characteristics that have made Cross so appealing, particularly his mind-tickling abilities to assess and outmaneuver his criminal opponents, are reduced here to the most fundamental and predictable level ... As reliable as any actor in Hollywood, Freeman delivers the requisite gravitas, but the bland script curtails any personal touches he might have inserted were his sleuth character unraveling a truly vexing mystery."[5]

Awards and nominations

Jerry Goldsmith won the BMI Film & TV Award for his original score, and Morgan Freeman was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture but lost to Denzel Washington for Training Day.

See also

References

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Along Came a Spider is a 2001 American mystery film. The film stars Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter and Michael Wincott, and it was directed by Lee Tamahori. The film's story serves as the prequel to the 1997 film Kiss the Girls. The story was adapted by Marc Moss from the novel by James Patterson.

Dialogue

Gary Soneji: No bargaining Alex, no cheap interrogation techniques. It's transparent and it's clumsy. This is between me and you. I want you to see. (puts hand to forehead) I want you to look inside here and tell me what the fuck you see! I'm a gift to you, Alex. I'm a gift to you. And you are beyond pitiful if you cannot understand that. I'm living proof that a mind - the mind is a terrible thing. (cracks up)
Alex Cross: I think you just have a morbid desire to burn in hell.

External Links

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