Scene in DC is our new series highlighting film and television shot in the District.
Most of us don’t remember Along Came a Spider, a thriller based on James Paterson’s bestselling novel, with good reason. It is a minor film, and its twists are so obviously telegraphed that they are borderline insulting. The film was released in August 2001, so one month later no one really cared about whether Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) could save the kidnapped senator’s daughter. Does that plot sound familiar? It should. The Silence of the Lambs had something pretty similar. This film is a minor blip for everyone involved, and yet there is a sequence that is unique in depiction of D.C.
Cross has a ransom, and the kidnapper has him go on a wild goose chase through the city before he can deliver it, just so the kidnapper can avoid detection. Like Die Hard with a Vengeance, Cross races one from spot to another, with little time to breathe in between. He goes to the Watergate, Archives Metro, Union Station, and other D.C. locales before he finally drops off the package (a thermos filled with diamonds). What is surprising about the sequence is how director Lee Tamahori went to great pains to shoot every D.C. exterior. Most films set in D.C. avoid filming on the actual streets. In Spielberg’s The Post, for example, the only honest-to-God D.C. sequences were B-roll shots of the paper landing on street corners. The sequence is not perfect, since Morgan Freeman is not a compelling physical actor and it ends with him riding Baltimore’s metro system, not DC’s. But it is an intriguing time capsule of how the city used to look.