Tyler Perry, best known for his performances as the sassy female character Madea, makes a dramatic shift playing detective and criminal psychologist Alex Cross in veteran director Rob Cohen’s big-screen fumble of the James Patterson novel "Cross," one of many crime novels in the popular author’s "Alex Cross" series.
In a loose and surprisingly awful adaptation of Patterson’s 12th "Alex Cross" novel by writers Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson, Cross chases a sadistic killer-for-hire (Matthew Fox) through the streets of Detroit on what may be his last case before taking a job with the F.B.I. and relocating to Washington D.C. (the locale of Patterson’s books).
Perry is something of a casting letdown once one learns that Idris Elba, star of the tense BBC America crime drama Luther, was originally slated to replace original franchise star Morgan Freeman from the 1997 film Kiss the Girls and the 2001 drama Along Came a Spider.
Still, to Perry’s credit, his fight scenes are believable and he’s more than credible in the film’s dramatic moments. In fact, Perry is not to blame for Cohen’s stumbling reboot of the Alex Cross franchise. He actually matches up fine with Freeman's performances in the previous two Alex Cross movies. The big difference is that Freeman enjoyed better scripts.
Matthew Fox, best known for his recurring role on Lost, transforms himself into a muscular sadist called Picasso for Alex Cross. He’s skinhead creepy but much of his menace washes away when he delivers his inane dialogue.
Ed Burns gives an aw shucks but otherwise forgettable performance as Tommy Kane, Cross’ partner on the Detroit police force.
Jean Reno mimics an embarrassing, Pepé Le Pew accent as a business leader with a shady past.
Giancarlo Esposito, just off a recurring role on Breaking Bad, brings a welcome spark to the movie as a Detroit crime boss but his scenes are too brief to make a real difference.
Rob Cohen, who replaces original director David Twohy, is efficient it comes to the film’s action scenes especially a climactic battle in the parking garage inside Detroit’s old Michigan Theater.
Unfortunately, all of Cohen’s skills at staging action mean little with a cop thriller filled with inane dialogue and an aimless plot with a dull conclusion.
Alex Cross fans desperate for a movie as enjoyable as their favorite crime novels will leave the cinema disappointed. Tyler Perry’s devoted admirers will wonder why he didn’t choose a better thriller to make his action man debut. In terms of a franchise reboot, Alex Cross is the rare movie that disappoints just about everyone unlucky enough to watch it.
Well, then again, there’s one person who probably considers himself lucky: Morgan Freeman, who’s thrilled that this awful Alex Cross adventure was taken off his plate.
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Cast: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Jean Reno, Giancarlo Esposito, Rachel Nichols, Carmen Ejogo, Cicely Tyson
Director: Rob Cohen
Screenwriter: Marc Moss, Kerry Williamson, from the James Patterson novel Cross
Cinematographer: Ricardo Della Rosa
Composer: John Debney
Production Designer: Laura Fox
Editor: Matt Diezel, Thom Noble
Producers: QED International, Envision Entertainment Corporation, IAC Productions
Running Time: 101 minutes
Rating: Rated PG-13
Release Date: October 19, 2012