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Tuesday September 27th

`Spider' Reprises `Kiss the Girls'

Along Came A Spider
3 Stars

Just like the romantic comedy, the detective suspense genre follows formulaic plot twists, including inexplicable jumps in logic, cool chase scenes and double-crosses up the wazoo.

"Along Came a Spider," based on the novel by James Patterson, predictably stays true to these requirements, yet manages to entertain nonetheless.

Morgan Freeman assumes a role, from the Patterson-penned novel "Kiss the Girls," as Dr. Alex Cross of the Washington, D.C., Police Department. This time he begins the movie mourning the death of his partner by constructing model boats and generally avoiding anything to do with his work.

When the daughter of a senator is kidnapped from a swanky D.C.-area private school, Cross is contacted by the kidnapper, who has read Cross' books on profiling criminals.

He teams up with Secret Service agent Jezzie Flannigan, played by Monica Potter, who wants to make up for her lapse in attempting to protect the school from such incidents.

What ensues is largely predictable, but some twists along the way do their part to create something other than the typical thriller.

Freeman is, of course, fabulous in his role, and while it doesn't require much, he still outshines everyone else with his quiet intensity.

Potter is the one who needs to rise to the challenge. Since her role figures to be much more vital to the outcome, she needs to show at least a little emotion.

Her performance needed an infusion of ... something. She just stares blankly at the screen no matter the situation.

Of course, the thriller aspect provides some great moments. A ransom delivery scene is worth the price of admission alone for the wild goose chase through downtown D.C. Cross runs through the streets from the Watergate Hotel to Union Station, eventually ending up on a Metro train.

While these sorts of scenes are fun to watch, they buy into the cliche. This may be attributable more to Patterson's novel than to anything else, but the patterns are just too discernable. Couldn't they have given Cross an affliction other than self-doubt over a dead partner to overcome?

Also regrettable are the missed opportunities. Cross develops an interesting relationship with the senator's wife, played by Penelope Ann Miller, but any development along that front is sacrificed to the movie gods.

It may be a while before a thriller is made that defies these conventions. The predictability might be difficult to bear, but "Along Came a Spider" will suffice in the interim.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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