This one you can ‘Cross’ off your must see list.
The H-Bomb: When a young woman and her three bodyguards are professionally wasted in a wealthy part of Detroit, Detective/Psychologist Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) and his team of dicks (including Edward Burns) are called on to the case. Now, Cross is a guy with a lot on his plate, as he’s being courted by the FBI to join the Bureau as a profiler, which would mean a substantial increase in income and less hectic hours, both of which could be useful, given that his wife is expecting a third child.
But this murder case is soon going to shoot straight to the top of Cross’s to-do list, when he discovers from a clue that the assassin (Matthew Fox) left hidden in a drawing that indicates that the woman’s murder was just the first of many hits to come. After connecting a few dots and following a couple of paper trails, Cross deduces that the assassin‘s, who he dubs Picasso, main target is French industrialist Leon Mercier (Jean Reno).
So now that Cross knows Picasso’s target, he figures that setting a trap for him shouldn’t be too difficult. That’s when Picasso throws Cross a curve, by killing a couple of people who are close to him. But Picasso has just Crossed the wrong cop, as now it’s fuckin’ personal for our doctor/detective, as he taps into his inner Harry Callahan and goes rogue looking for revenge. Locked and loaded for bear, he will stop at nothing to bring his man down, even if it means sacrificing his own life in the process.
Alex Cross, created by novelist James Patterson, is a hero who appeared in two prior films, Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, where he was played both times by Morgan Freeman. I’ve have seen both of those films one time each, and barely remember either of them, so my dislike for this new film, based on Patterson’s novel “Cross”, has nothing to do with any loyalty I may have to those films or to Freeman’s portrayal of Cross… I thought this new flick just plain sucked.
Directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast and The Furious, XXX), Alex Cross is a slick but dull, uninvolving thriller whose titular character is portrayed by the dull, uninvolving Perry, who sheds his Madea persona and attempts to follow in the footsteps of Morgan Freeman. Sorry, Mr. Perry, but you are no Morgan Freeman.
The film starts out as your average police procedural that shows the killer in the act, then shows the brilliant detective piecing together what he did and creating a profile for him, “Our killer is sociopathic, narcissistic, methodical, yada, yada.” It’s not bad, per se, but it’s pretty routine and plodding, and Manhunter did this kind of thing so much better, and with so much more style (so does your typical episode of CSI).
Where Alex Cross truly fails is when things get personal for Cross, and it turns into one of the most half-baked revenge movies I’ve ever seen. When Perry was doing the straight forward criminal profiler thing, he was okay, but when he transforms into a rage-fueled, vengeance-minded bad ass, he becomes hilariously awful. Listening to him, with all the conviction and earnestness he could muster, say lines like, “I’ll meet his soul at the gates of Hell!” had me laughing so hard I was choking on my popcorn. I hate to say it, but Perry makes a much more convincing mad black woman than he does any kind of a tough guy.
There was one point in the movie, when Cross has a very emotional scene with his daughter, where I stopped laughing at Perry and actually started to feel a bit sorry for him… because this little girl in the scene with him was completely acting circles around him! Had someone like Jamie Foxx been cast in lead, Alex Cross would still be a stale, by-the-numbers cop thriller, but at least it would have had a solid, believable lead actor. But with Perry, it gets so bad it gains a kind of camp quality, but not enough of one to actually make this dreary flick enjoyable. Now, if they had cast Tommy Wiseau, then they might have had something… but I digress.
Getting back to the topic at hand, while the routine script and the terrible lead performance almost completely sink this mess, there is one aspect of the movie that nearly salvages it, Fox’s portrayal of the killer, Picasso. Chiseled and ruthless, with a panther-like physical prowess, he is fucking scary, and unlike Perry, is totally credible in his role. I don’t question his cold-blooded killer for an instant. If Fox played more parts like this, I’d pay more attention to him as an actor, because here, he steals the show. It’s a shame that his final fight with Cross is ruined by director Cohen’s vomit inducing shaky-cam.
Other fine actors like Burns, Reno, and John C. McGinley, are wasted in throwaway roles. I must wonder what attracted these actors to these rather bland characters in this rather bland script, other than the paychecks… oh wait, I guess that’s enough these days. I can’t really say I hated Alex Cross, because overall it’s too generic to hate. I was, for the most part, just bored by it. The two lead performances were the only things that held my attention and kept me from dosing off in the theater, albeit they held my attention for two completely different reasons.
Due to circumstances that were completely outside of my control, I missed the press screening for Alex Cross and had to see it on my own dime. And although I most definitely took a loss on that one, I don’t feel too sore about it, as I’ve heard that Paranormal Activity 4 is just as bad, if not worse. I truly pity the fools who paid to see that one.