Director(s): Rob Cohen
Writer(s): Mark Moss and Kerry Williamson
Cast: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Rachel Nichols, Cicely Tyson, Carmen Ejogo, Giancarlo Esposito, John C. McGinley and Jean Reno
Reviewed by: Christine Lambert on
Release Date(s)Oct 19, 2012 - Wide
For an actor best known as playing Madea, was Alex Cross supposed to be Tyler Perry’s vehicle to broaden his range and show of his dramatic chops? If the movie Alex Cross were an actual vehicle, it would have been recalled just off the assembly line.
Based on the novel Cross by James Patterson, Alex Cross is a prequel to the films Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls, in which Morgan Freeman played Cross. The film opens with police lieutenant and psychologist Cross pondering a job with the FBI as a criminal profiler. The expected arrival of his third child and thirty-five percent pay raise are tempting, but that would mean relocating to Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, an assassin who loves to torture and cause pain, Picasso, (Matthew Fox), becomes the focus of Cross and his partner Thomas Kane (Edward Burns).
The movie uses the first twenty minutes or so to set up the premise and introduce the characters much like a new sitcom does. In sitcoms, the characters are always addressing each other by their names and their given situations. It works in sitcoms, it doesn’t work in film. The writing is so incredibly heavy-handed in Alex Cross that it becomes tiresome very quickly. One example of that is Cross calling Kane to meet. The reaction on Burns’ face was enough to tell the audience that he was not in a place where he should be. Instead of letting the actors act, the script then has Burns reciting a long-winded explanation of why he shouldn’t be there and how Cross knows exactly where he is and how long they have known each other.
Another cringeworthy moment in the script is when Cross is explaining the virtues of OnStar. It’s one thing to mention a product, or to see product placement in a film (it happens all the time), but to actually recite a commercial?
Both Perry and Fox take giant departures with their characters from what audiences expect to see. Perry, being primarily known for his films and the cross-dressing work as Madea, shows that he can deliver drama just as well as comedy. Time will tell if audiences come back for more drama though. Alex Cross is a shadow of what it could have been. Unfortunately, many viewers may not understand that it is not Perry at fault for such a poor film.
Fox plays the sociopath Picasso very convincingly. But as with Perry, the material is so lacking and laughable that it is a shame that the introduction to new characters had to be in Alex Cross.
As a film, Alex Cross pales in comparison to its predecessors Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls. Its writing and execution are quite weak. On the plus side, it isn’t a boring film and would still be able to muster some sustained interest from the audience. Note to the filmmakers: the laughter you hear is not with you.