It’s probably best if you don’t remember the old Alex Cross played by Morgan Freeman from Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. This new Alex Cross from the franchise “reboot” (of sorts) is not a charismatic, middle-aged man with a magnetic, made-for-narration voice. This new Alex Cross is played by a hulking, 6’5″ dude best known for performing in drag.
I can only imagine how Alex Cross, vaguely based on the 12th novel of the series, Cross, by James Patterson, would have turned out had the producers been able to secure their first choice, Idris Elba from The Wire. It wouldn’t have made up for the atrocious script and the deficiencies in the direction, but at least our protagonist would have the edge that Tyler Perry sorely lacks. Perry is clearly very good at what he does (his fortune from the Madea movies, where he plays a thuggish elderly woman, speaks for itself), but this role just felt uncomfortable for him.
Let me backtrack a little. Alex Cross is a psychologist and police lieutenant in Detroit who accepts a job as an FBI profiler. In Alex Cross, he and his partner (Ed Burns) begin a dangerous cat and mouse game with a psychotic killer known as Picasso, played by Matthew Fox from Lost, who enjoys drugging and torturing his victims. That’s basically it. Picasso does a lot of crazy stuff and acts all crazy and Alex Cross and his partner try to track him down and bring him to justice.
The biggest problem with this movie is the script, which I am told has very little to do with the original story. Alex Cross is supposed to be some super clever detective, but in this film all he does is get angry, jerked around and continuously outsmarted by the villain. What’s the point of this movie if all our detective uses is his massive muscles and not his brain?
My second issue is with the direction of Rob Cohen, who really shouldn’t be that bad because he’s the director of The Fast and the Furious, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story and Stealth, none of which are nearly as horrible as this effort. But instead, the film comes across like a B-grade, straight-to-DVD affair that reeks of laziness. The movie flatlines all the way through without any genuine thrills or excitement. Even the special effects are weak. And what the heck is the deal with those amateurish slow-mo effects during the fight scenes?
This brings me to Tyler Perry, who, to be fair, wasn’t given much to work with but still underperformed as the titular character. I didn’t feel his intelligence or his emotion, even at a pivotal moment when tragedy struck. Still, he was better than Ed Burns and his annoying voice.
Matthew Fox apparently underwent some serious workouts and diets to totally transform his body for this role, and it looks like it was a waste of time. His villain looks menacing enough but isn’t given much substance. He’s undoubtedly crazy, but just not very interesting. Hannibal Lecter he certainly isn’t.
Not much else to say except to confirm that Alex Cross was indeed a huge disappointment. A sequel with Perry reprising the role was announced before this one was even released, but I wonder whether the plans will change with the film being bombarded by poor reviews and a subpar box office performance.
1.5 stars out of 5