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[Short Reviews]

ALONG CAME A SPIDER

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet, eating her popcorn and Coke. Along came a spider and sat down beside her and said, " Is this síposed to be some kinda joke? "

If so, it isnít funny. One can only guess what possessed Morgan Freeman to sully his reputation with this mind-numbing showcase of hoary detective-flick clichés, astoundingly bad dialogue, and absurd plot twists. Lee Tamahoriís adaptation of James Pattersonís novel opens with detective Alex Cross (Freeman, reprising his role from 1997ís Kiss the Girls, in the filmís only good performance) watching helplessly as his partner dies in a particularly unsettling manner thatís partly his fault. For months afterward, Cross is a wreck ó unable to do much besides tinker with his model ships. But wait! When a psychopathic teacher (creosote-throated Michael Wincott) kidnaps a senatorís daughter and purposely involves Cross in the case, a chance for redemption arises. Cross teams up with Jezzie (Monica Potter), the Secret Service agent who was charged with protecting the girl, and they set out doggedly to find her.

The " plot " that follows reheats every hackneyed crime/thriller device imaginable. Itís insultingly rote. Finally, one characterís death makes it appear that the whole thing is about to wrap up. Then a pall comes over Crossís face as he says, " Itís not over. " Not a few people in the screening I attended groaned audibly. After that, thereís a final twist that may shock ó shock! ó you. But probably not.

BY MIKE MILIARD

Issue Date: April 5-12, 2001