Inspired by the popular book of the same name by bestselling author James Patterson, ‘Along Came a Spider’ marks Morgan Freeman’s second outing as Alex Cross, whom we first met onscreen in the 1997 neo-noir thriller ‘Kiss the Girls’. Cross is a forensic psychologist who works as a detective at the Washington, D.C. police department and has garnered a considerable reputation for his deductive skills and psychology-based approach to crime-solving.
Freeman portrays the character with such dignity and intelligent retrospection that his performance alone is enough to keep the audience enraptured throughout the film’s entire runtime. Directed by Lee Tamahori (‘Mulholland Falls’, ‘The Edge’), the film differs quite a bit from the source material, but the Marc Moss’s script has plenty of mystery elements in it. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Along Came a Spider Plot Synopsis
In the opening scenes of the film, Cross’ partner is killed when a sting operation goes horribly wrong. Feeling responsible, he quits the force. Several months pass before Megan Rose (Mika Boorem), the daughter of a US senator, is kidnapped from her school by her computer science teacher, Gary Soneji (Michael Wincott). The kidnapper later calls Cross and taunts him to return to active duty. He also leaves one of Megan’s shoes in Cross’ mailbox, so it will be easy for him to gain access to Megan’s parents and the investigation.
As Cross gets involved in the case, he develops a mentor-mentee relationship with the Secret Service Officer Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter), who was part of the security detail for Megan and seemingly blames herself for the kidnapping. They discover that Soneji was wearing heavy prosthetics while he was teaching at the school, and he will be unrecognizable now. They also find out that his actions have been motivated by the Lindbergh Kidnapping, and he is pursuing the same notoriety as the perpetrator in the case. Cross and Flannigan race against time so they can rescue Megan before it’s too late.
Soneji receives the moniker “Spider” because he had been patiently waiting for years before he finally struck and took Megan. Although Cross and others think that he is not particularly looking to harm Megan during her captivity, they know that the longer she is with him, the more danger the situation poses for her.
Soneji keeps Megan locked in his boat while he enjoys a cat-and-mouse game with Cross. He demonstrates no regard for human life whatsoever. He kills a man after Megan escapes by jumping into the river and tries to draw the attention of the man. He also uses this moment to give a warning to Megan. While he may not physically hurt her, others will bear the consequences for her actions.
The Real Target
Soneji is a psychotic murderer and kidnapper obsessively pursuing fame. He aspires to become as notorious as Bruno Hauptmann, the man who took aviator Lindbergh’s son and later caused his death. In the 1930s, Lindbergh was a big celebrity as he had the distinction of making the first solo transatlantic flight in 1927. His son’s kidnapping was referred to as “The Crime of the Century” by the contemporary media. Soneji wants to replicate this. However, Cross realizes with Flannigan’s help, that Megan’s father is not a big enough target for Soneji to accomplish that.
Soneji’s real intended victim is Dimitri Starodubov (Anton Yelchin), the son of the President of Russia, who has also been one of Soneji’s students. Soneji pretends to be Megan in their personal chat and lures him out from the Russian embassy. He would have kidnapped him as well if it weren’t for Cross and Flannigan. When he goes back to his boat, he is at his wit’s end. He takes his gun and goes to the cabin where he has been keeping Megan, supposedly to kill her, but discovers that she is missing.
Cross doesn’t suspect that there is a deeper scheme until later in the film. After the failed kidnapping, a ransom call seemingly comes from Soneji, asking for $10 million in diamonds. In an exhilarating sequence that takes Cross all over the city, the money is delivered to the supposed abductor. Cross had correctly figured out Soneji earlier when he concluded that he wasn’t after money. This sudden change in behavior surprises him. A desperate Soneji breaks into Flannigan’s home, incapacitates her with a taser to finally have a face-to-face conversation with Cross. The detective intentionally mentions an incorrect ransom amount to gauge his reaction.
When he receives nothing in response, he realizes that Soneji doesn’t know anything about the ransom demand and what happened afterward. The abductor tries to take Flannigan as a hostage, but she stabs him in the leg before Cross shoots him with her father’s Turkish gun. With Soneji’s death, the case comes to an apparent halt, as he was the only person who knew where Megan is. But Cross suspects that someone has been using Soneji for their own gain. As Flannigan later observes, Cross killed Soneji only after finding out that he did not have Megan any longer.
It is revealed that Flannigan’s colleague Ben Devine (Billy Burke) has taken Megan from the kidnapper’s boat and is currently keeping her in an isolated farmhouse. However, he isn’t the mastermind behind the elaborate plan of using both Soneji and Cross to get that huge ransom money, Flannigan is. When she arrives, she berates him for not yet killing Megan. She later shoots him in the head, after coldly deducing that Cross has likely figured out his guilt. What she doesn’t take into consideration is that he may find out her involvement as well. Cross is just one step behind the audience in his discovery of the real culprits.
He comes to know that Devine and Flannigan could have stopped Soneji from leaving the school’s premise but didn’t. He goes back to Flannigan’s home and accesses her personal computer using “Aces&Eight” (the poker hand with which her father won the Turkish gun) as the password and sees all the information she has gathered on him, Soneji, Megan, and even Dimitri. He also finds out where Megan presently is. Back at the farmhouse, Flannigan tries to convince Megan that she is there to rescue her. But Megan, the clever and intuitive girl that she is, doesn’t trust her.
As Flannigan begins shooting, Megan somehow manages to escape from the room. It is then that Cross arrives and points his gun at Flannigan. She tries to pull one last trick by bringing up his dead partner, but an impassive Cross reminds her that she isn’t his partner. Realizing that this is the end of the road for her, a tearful Flannigan tries to shoot Cross but is gunned down instead. He then approaches Megan and promises her to take her back to her parents.
Read More: Where Was Along Came a Spider Filmed?