|Along Came a Spider appears at its beginning to be a film with a good amount of intelligence, but it soon establishes itself as a thriller without many thrills. And in the end, it almost becomes predictable. But that doesn't mean Morgan Freeman was anything but his usual genius self. It's possible that Freeman could be placed in front of a camera to recite the words of a dictionary and he'd still give an interesting performance. But unfortunately, the actors around him and the script he's given in this picture are not worthy of his talent.|
An accurate term for this screenplay is tedious. The screenplay doesn't have the necessary tension and suspense that's require for a thriller. The story is kind of calm to begin with and without a set of high stakes for the audience to grasp onto, the movie gets kind of boring after the opening sequence. And the opening of the film doesn't really strike fear into the hearts of viewers either. With the kidnapping of a local senator's son at a prep school, Morgan Freeman and Monica Potter are draw into the "web" of a man whose motives are something only Freeman's character can find out. But though the beginning of this movie could have been the beginning of a mildly entertaining thriller (something to rent at home with a bowl of microwave popcorn), the movie as a whole never becomes exciting.
And the resolution to the film, where you find out who-dunnit is almost unsatisfying. During the film, there aren't a bunch of "clues" dropped that would allow the audience to participate with Morgan Freeman in finding who the real killer is. There's one clue that turns out to be the one that gives Freeman the answer to the riddle of the boy's disappearance, but when all is said and done, the motions that the characters go through don't really matter. This film is ineffective as a thriller simply because the story doesn't grab the audience and force them to sit with a rock in their stomachs for the run of the film. That's what a good thriller does: give the audience a reason to bite their nails. But this picture really just gives the viewer an excuse to look at their watch.
That's pretty remarkable, considering that this movie stars Morgan Freeman, possibly the best American actor on movie screens today. Perhaps it was the fault of the screenwriter or the director. This film seems to prove that even the most accomplished of actors sometimes can't create a worthwhile experience. Though the fault cannot be thrown completely onto the shoulders of the screenwriter and director. Regarding the other actors in the film, the appearance of Monica Potter in the film doesn't help the story at all. Her very poor performance in Head Over Heels is only duplicated in this film. She plays a secret service agent with the job of protecting the kid who gets snatched and becomes an unofficial partner to Morgan Freeman. It's staggering how much more Morgan Freeman is able to project as an actor than what Monica Potter has shown herself capable of.
It may be the fact that with age comes experience, but as a team, acting off of one another, Morgan Freeman is so much more convincing in his character than Monica that the scenes they're in together come off as seeming very unbalanced. And the twists at the end of the film only reinforce the fact that this film would have fared better as a straight cop chaser than as a thriller that would have looked better as a no-name mystery at the bargain table at Barnes and Noble. Of course, the novel it was adapted from somewhat resembles that description. This film more resembles a book that was turned into a bad cable movie or movie of the week, than a big screen thriller that stars the talented Morgan Freeman. And speaking still further on the actors in this flick, not only do the people surrounding morgan's character not include the most talented people in the acting world, but the characters themselves do not make that much of an impact.
This is perhaps a combination of both the insuitability of the actors for these roles and the poor development of the character in the screenplay. The failure of a film in its specific genre, this film being a thriller, is usually the result of more than one mistake. It is rare that one element of a film, such as one bad actor, or one flaw in the script can make the film as a whole an unsuccessful venture. But too many mistakes are made with Along Came a Spider. In addition to failings in story and character, the cinematography is not of the most creative variety and the soundtrack does not contain a lot of originality. As a whole, this film is more bland than anything. The screenplay's attempts at twists and turns result only in unbelivability.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.