Along Came a Spider Recap

Jamie

Alex Cross is back, Jack! And boy is he damaged. When a psycho kidnaps a Senator’s daughter, Cross is shocked to find the maniac communicating directly with him. Can he and his definitely-not-a-bad-guy secret service helper stop the baddie and rescue the girl before it’s too late? Find out in… Along Came a Spider.

How?! Alex Cross is stinging from the death of his partner in an undercover operation gone wrong. But when a prominent politician’s daughter is swiped from a high security school by a teacher, Gary Soneji, who seems to have meticulously planned out the crime years in advance he’s intrigued. He’s even more intrigued when the guy starts communicating with him and implies that he wants Cross to personally profile him for the historical record. Enter Alex Cross and his exquisite mind. He takes the school’s secret service agent, Jezzie, as his partner and together they start knocking down clues. “Why is that picture missing?” Cross asks! “Why take a measly Senator’s daughter and not some even more powerful person?” Jezzie chimes in! “Why does this maniac seem to just want fame?” Cross ponders. Oh how beautiful a mind he has… or should I say they! Because he and Jezzie together foil a second kidnapping and ruin Soneji’s day. With the plan ruined, Soneji (or is it?) demands a ransom and, through an intricate, wholly original plot whereby he forces Cross to run across D.C. answering a series of pay phones, is able to get millions of dollars in diamonds. At this point Cross is puzzled as the case doesn’t seem to have gone the way he thought. Even more puzzling is when a distraught Soneji shows up at Jezzie’s apartment and attempts to kill her resulting in Cross killing him. Realizing this doesn’t make sense Cross cracks Jezzie’s computer with his sumptuous mind and reveals that (what a twist!) Jezzie has been part of the plan. She and another secret service agent tailed Soneji, let him take the girl, foiled the other kidnapping, demanded ransom, and then stole the girl back. When Jezzie realizes that Cross’s mind is just too stunning, she runs to the hiding place to kill the girl. But Cross is too good and shows up and kills her and saves the girl. THE END. Big Question: Is Alex Cross’ mind a 10?

Why?! You have to applaud the adaptation because it does streamline the motivations whereas the book mixes Soneji up with all kinds of psychology stuff like split personalities. Here it’s simple: Soneji wants fame and considers himself the criminal of the century worthy of documentation by bestselling crime author Alex Cross. Jezzie on the other hand wants money and uses her position as a secret service agent to take advantage of Soneji’s plot for her own devices. Alex Cross just wants to solve the crime, his mind demands it.

Who?! At a certain point in the the hierarchy of the US government I have to cut my losses and not mention that we have an actor portraying the character. Senator Hank Rose seems to fit the bill. Even the characters in the movie are like “he’s not even that famous, why would anyone care to kidnap his children?” The only reason I even am mentioning him is that he is played by Michael Moriarty (aka Harry Potter, Sr. from the film Troll) and he appears to be quite kooky. He was kooky in Troll and he’s kooky here and I watched him in a film Full Fathom Five where he is also decidedly kooky. Always interesting to watch.

What?! Hey, anyone need a prop police badge from Along Came a Spider? No? Me neither. But speaking of props I did enjoy a cyberprop (just coined that) in this film. The kids in the elite D.C. school hide messages encoded in pictures, which they pass back and forth. Uncrackable unless you know the key that tells you where to look specifically in the data for the message. It’s a nice touch and actually seems believable.

Where?! This is a Washington D.C. special (honestly how an Alex Cross film should be). We get several prominent landmarks featured and the portrayal of a US Senator. Climax takes place in Northern Virginia. I would give this an A-, but the Tyler Perry Alex Cross film proved that they can really take Cross to a number of other cities and he settles in quite nicely. B+.

When?! I went back through and the closest we get is the dry erase board in the security area of the school that appears to have a note for the date 23/4/01. This would make some sense, but I’m thrown off by the apparent use of a European date notation. Regardless this is a D at best.

I found this one almost the reverse of Kiss the Girls. I thought Morgan Freeman sleepwalked through the film and Monica Potter was not particularly good. This was probably partially the fault of the script, which was pretty meandering. And that in turn might have been because the book itself was much much harder to adapt than Kiss the Girls. They did a pretty straight adaptation of that one, but in this case there was just no way. The book as written is unfilmable, so they had to do a lot of work to smooth everything out and it was smoothed into something slow and boring. Not a thrill and/or chill to be seen and an ending that is both nonsense and anticlimactic. The only good thing was that I felt like the director pretty deftly handled a twist in the middle of the film in order to obscure it from audiences who hadn’t read the source material. Somehow we had two Alex Cross films with nearly identical Rotten Tomatoes scores and I reacted totally differently to them. Interesting. I give it an upside down hand heart (aka The Butt). Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If I made this film I would have called it Along Came a Creepy Kidnapper. ‘Cause I’m scared of spiders. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – Confusingly this film is the second in the series, whereas the book is the first in the long-running book series. The book is straight up b-b-b-b-b-bonkers (more on that later), but I had already seen the film back in the day before I realized it qualified for BMT. So the preview was me just kind of remembering that the film kind of sucked. What were my expectations? The further I get away from reading the book I wondered if I misremembered things a bit. The film is so far from the book that maybe things got muddled in that way … I don’t think so though, I bet the film is a mess.

The Good – Morgan Freeman is still pretty good as Alex Cross, although he seemed a bit less thrilled with the film. Seemed a bit bored. It is too bad he never got a chance to go at some of the later books which I assume eventually settled into something a bit less … weird. If you didn’t really expect a twist the twist at the very least kind of comes out of nowhere. The child actors do a shockingly good job.

The Bad – This movie is a mess. A complete mess. They botch the twist in the end. The two main villains (spoilees, one is Monica Potter, who seems like a good guy from most of the film) are terrible actors as well. It is a really bad adaptation of the book, but almost by necessity. You see … the book is insane. So when they adapted it they clearly had to cut half of it out and try and rebuild it from the ashes. It doesn’t work. The story makes no sense without the batshit insanity Patterson introduced with the main villain, because his motivations only make sense if his is batshit insane. It is a bizarre choice for a bizarre film. Small shoutout for them totally ripping off Dirty Harry with Alex Cross running around from payphone to payphone at the behest of the villain. Bold move.

The BMT –.I think this is one of those films where the book adaptation is so crazy that it makes it slightly more enjoyable … but it still isn’t good. I’ve seen the film twice … and I will do as much as possible to avoid seeing it a third time. Just not good or fun. Did it meet my expectations? Well I had already seen the film, and remembered not liking it and thinking it was dumb … nailed it. I remembered correctly.

Roast-radamus – Very small Setting as a Character (Where?) for Washington D.C. because the fact that high-level government children getting kidnapped is pivotal to the plot. Decent MacGuffin (Why?) … actually aren’t all kidnapping films centered around a MacGuffin? Interesting thought I’ve never considered before. And of course no bad thriller would be complete without a Worst Twist (How?) and this one is a doozy. Here is turns out the good guy is a bad guy, but then kills the other good guy (for no reason), and they are in a farm house … it makes no sense. It is fantastic. I’ll throw this into the Bad running early. I really disliked this film and just hated it.

StreetCreditReport.com – This is a lot closer to something that I can imagine entering some BMT pantheon. Maybe … worst book adaptations? I can’t really find any good lists from 2001, but the cred, as I said in the other recap, is just because of Alex Cross. Crazy pulpy detective series with a 100% BMT record? Yeah, we were going to do these eventually.

You Just Got Schooled – Ah, another book adaptation. This book is insane. It was the first Alex Cross film and I think Patterson didn’t really know what he wanted to do with it. It actually feels like multiple books smashed together. You have the kidnapper obsessed with the Lindbergh kidnapping … but then all of a sudden the kidnapper is a family man, who claims to have a multiple personality, and robs a McDonald’s, and then the Secret Service agent is involved, but Alex Cross is having a relationship with her, and one of the kids died! The multiple personality story is straight out of Primal Fear, which I had read just before this book. That probably didn’t help when I read it. It really did feel like a smash up of a cheap detective thriller with some early-90s legal drama (obsessed with split personalities obviously). The book is a C-, and somehow the adaptation is an F.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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