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Paramount Pictures
Official Site
Director: Lee Tamahori
Producer: David Brown, Morgan Freeman, Marty Hornstein, Joe Wizan
Written by: James Patterson, Marc Moss
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter

Rating: out of 5

The opening credits were the best part of the entire movie. There was a nice little dramatic climax right in the middle of the credits where the title of the movie was revealed while the music ominously foreshadowed the mystery of ďthe spider.Ē It was difficult to appreciate this moment, as it seemed so meager at the time. But when placed in the context of the rest of the movie, it was so . . . good. I would rather have watched two hours of credits than see this shameful outing.

Morgan Freeman plays Detective Alex Cross, a famous profiler and investigator from KISS THE GIRLS (this is a prequel to that movie). Heís been out of action for eight months after his partnerís death, when suddenly a senatorís daughter is kidnapped. Cross wouldnít care normally, except the kidnapper calls him with information. He drops his reluctance like the flimsy characterization it is and teams up with the dull, cardboard cutout Jezzie Flannigan (Potter).

So whoís the ďspiderĒ? There isnít one. None of the bad guys are crafty or sinister. The writer thought it would be cool to put a spider in the title. The plot is like a strainer, so full of holes it couldnít hold water if your attention span depended on it. The exposition about Cross and Flannigan is pointless. It adds nothing to their characters nor does it play a role in the plot. This is advantageous because you can come into the movie halfway through and not be confused at all. The only thing that even earns this movie any stars is the final act, but itís not enough. I was kind of hoping Freeman would double-cross everyone in the end, kill the cute daughter, and run off with the money. That, at least, would have been funny.

Instead, weíre treated to Freeman playing yet another cop, and yet again without Fincherís (SEVEN) direction. Whoever picked Potterís lighting scheme should be shot. I have never seen a girl look so white. It was as if she were in a permanent state of terror. Probably imagining this movieís reviews. The bad guy, Michael Wincott, is mind-bogglingly boring. Not only are his motives typical, his actions are a mishmash of compassion and ruthlessness. Iíve never been less scared. Itís unclear how weíre supposed to feel about him. And to top it all off, the graphics are bad. How can you have bad graphics in this day and age? How could any of the actors not run screaming from this script, madly tearing at their eyeballs in some Oedipus-like state of shock and horror?

The scriptís clearly bad, but sometimes a director can make crap into crÍpe suzette. Personally, I think Lee Tamahori (ONCE WERE WARRIORS) should go back to independent films. A lot of times itís safe to say that the studio probably screwed it up somewhere along the road. In this case though, I think everyone deserves their fair share of blame. Itís sad to see Freeman piss away his talent with this stuff. A mannequin could have played his part. Hell, Iíd pay to see that. You could turn the film into an avant-garde metaphor for life and how we pull each otherís strings. Itís got to be worth more laughs than this.

óZack Schenkkan

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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