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Along Came a Spider Reviews

Where KISS THE GIRLS was powered by the queasy-making but undeniably compelling specter of baroque sexual abuse, this thriller bends over backwards to assure viewers that the preternaturally brilliant weirdo who's kidnapped a little girl has no such smutty notions in mind. Ten-year-old Megan Rose (Mika Boorem), a senator's daughter, attends Washington's exclusive Cathedral school. Though Secret Service agents and bodyguards outnumber educators, Megan is snatched in broad daylight by Gary Soneji (Michael Wincott), a preternaturally patient psychopath (the titular "spider") who's spent a full two years posing as a benevolent teacher and waiting for the right moment to spirit the child out from under the pertly upturned nose of her watcher, Agent Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter). Megan's parents (Michael Moriarty, Penelope Ann Miller) are distraught. The FBI, led by Special Agent McArthur (Dylan Baker), is baffled. And the kidnapper is calling the shots — he even knows who he wants leading the investigation. Forensic psychologist Dr. Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) of the D.C. police department is a brilliant investigator, but he's still traumatized by his partner's death during a botched sting operation that Cross had set up. Flannigan, meanwhile, insists on working with Cross; she's on the verge of being fired from the Secret Service, the FBI wants nothing to do with her, and her only hope of salvaging her career lies in getting Megan back unharmed. The kidnapper has left a tantalizing trail of clues that Cross quickly picks up — including a hint that he wants to commit "the crime of the century," like the kidnapping of the Lindburgh baby — but there's much more to the case than meets the eye. The question is whether Cross can sweep away the cobwebs in time to rescue Maggie from the super-creep's clutches. Though based on the first of bestselling novelist James Patterson's Alex Cross mysteries (there have been six to date), the movie's plot has been reworked considerably. So it's hard to know who to blame for its fundamental dreariness. Freeman, who can invest the most underwritten character with intelligence and emotional complexity, works his usual magic. But he's surrounded by stick figures going through their increasingly ridiculous paces. Even Soneji is a bit bloodless, and if Michael Wincott — who under normal circumstances can chill your blood just by breathing — can't make the villain compelling, you know the movie's in trouble.