Delivering curds and whey

Along Came a Spider is a tired, over-complicated thriller

Along Came a Spider Starring Morgan Freeman and Monica Potter. Directed by Lee Tamahori.
Rated 2.0

After the surprise success of last year’s Kiss the Girls, Paramount obviously felt the need to build a franchise around star Morgan Freeman’s character Alex Cross, from the popular series by author James Patterson. The books, all lifting their titles from nursery rhyme lines, highlight the amazing adventures of a police “profiler” (a special investigator who uses deductive skills and intuition to create theoretical composites of criminals) as he tracks down myriad serial killers and other felonious ne’er-do-wells.

This time around, Cross is reluctantly dragged into a case involving the kidnapped daughter of a U.S. senator, snatched from the ivied walls of a high-security private school from under the noses of a squad of Secret Service agents assigned to protect her.

The abductor is one of those ever-popular masters of disguise who has been patiently spinning his web for over two years, posing all the while as the girl’s teacher while laying the groundwork for a scheme to commit nothing less than the “crime of the century,” using the famous Lindbergh case as a template. But as these potboilers go, nothing—and no motivation—is as it seems.

As necessary in an already tired (and by nature limited) genre, Along Came a Spider compensates by becoming ludicrously over-complicated, with absurd mechanizations set up only to be unraveled by Cross’ superhuman deductive skills. Some of his intuitive leaps are so arbitrary that there comes a point where all one can do is shrug, lean back and wait to see where all of this muddle is supposed to lead, in absence of anything more to experience.

The proceedings aren’t helped much by the inherent absurdity of the set-up, from the squadron of agents to the ridiculous lengths that the "mastermind" (yet another Euro-baddie) goes through in order to pull off what would realistically amount to a slightly more difficult basic snatch-and-ransom. Two days after seeing this, it holds no more resonance than the front of Sunday’s paper.