It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
A few loopholes I can forgive. But when a plot is riddled with them, crippled by them, made implausible by them, as in "Along Came a Spider," I get distracted. I'm wondering, since Dr. Alex Cross is so brilliant, how come he doesn't notice yawning logical holes in the very fabric of the story he's occupying? Dr. Cross (Morgan Freeman) is a District of Columbia police detective, a famous forensic psychologist whose textbook is quoted by other cops. As the movie opens, he loses his partner in one of those scenes where you're thinking, gee, I didn't know the police had that kind of technology. A woman cop has a small camera concealed on her being, which takes a TV signal of the killer who is driving a car and relays it to Cross in a helicopter, causing us to wonder if there is a way to arrest this guy at less taxpayer expense.
After this chase, Cross goes into a depression and passes the time building model boats--until his phone rings and it's another diabolical killer, who once again has devised an elaborate cat-and-mouse game for the detective to play. No killers in Washington ever just want to murder somebody; they're all motivated by the desire to construct elaborate puzzles for Cross.
No one is better than Morgan Freeman at being calm and serious and saying things like, "He's really after somebody else." Freeman was brilliant an unraveling the diabolical pattern in "Seven" (1995), and the success of that movie inspired the splendid "Kiss the Girls" (1997), where he first played Cross, the hero of six novels by James Patterson. In "Girls," he intuited that the madman wasn't killing his victims but collecting them. Now comes another criminal who has read way too many James Patterson novels.
I will tread carefully to avoid revealing surprises, since the movie socks us with one every five minutes, counting on our astonishment to distract us from implausibilities. The film opens with a strangling and a kidnapping at an exclusive private school. Because the hostage is the daughter of a senator, the Secret Service is called in, and Cross finds himself working with Agent Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter), who found time for a career despite a lifetime of explaining to people how her name is spelled.