Alex Cross review – Perry tries, but can’t bear it

Alex Cross can’t overcome stale formula

The biggest problem with trying to reinvent yourself as a hard-nosed tough guy is when most of the movie-going public most closely associates you as a woman. That’s the issue Tyler Perry faces in Alex Cross, a mediocre action/drama.

Alex Cross serves as a prequel to the big screen adaptations of James Patterson novels, Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls, starring Morgan Freeman as an older, more experienced Cross.

As an action star, Perry is … decent. He tries a bit too hard to overcome that image of Madea’s large glasses and grey wig and his own big teddy bear looks, but he’s passable. Idris Elba (Prometheus) was originally cast in the starring role, but when the film was passed on to another production company, they reportedly wanted to tap into Perry’s massive star appeal and base a new franchise around him. Perry’s ok, but I would have been much more excited to see Elba in the lead role.

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Director Rob Cohen, who has never recaptured the magic from his trendsetting ‘extreme’ films, The Fast and the Furious and xXx, understands the audience’s reluctance to buy into Tyler Perry: Action Star and starts off the film with Cross chasing down a suspect in a physical confrontation.

Cross is a seasoned Detroit detective on the heels of a ruthless assassin, Picasso, (Matthew Fox) targeting a businessman with plans to revitalize the city. After Cross and his team — Monica (Rachel Nichols, Star Trek) and Tommy (a welcome Edward Burns in the sarcastic partner role) — come close to stopping him, Picasso takes offense and makes his assignment personal.

Fox, most famous for his forced-upon hero leader role on Lost, gives pretty good crazy. He carries Picasso like a true unhinged nut job ready to snap at any moment without warning — often conveying that trigger with nothing more than a sudden shift in his eyes and stiffening of his wiry frame. He’s thrilling to watch because you’ve got no clue what he’ll do next.

Between Cohen’s dizzying editing style, the ear-assaulting soundtrack and a leaky script, there’s plenty of suspects that ruin this case.

Marc Moss (Along Came a Spider) and newcomer Kerry Williamson’s script  speeds through Cross’ chase of Picasso so quickly that there’s little of that cat-and-mouse game you’d expect from a detective drama.

Moss and Williamson want us to see Cross as this master detective, but they don’t do enough to showcase that. What they do offer is a watered-down film of convenience to kick start a new Cross franchise.

Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) squares off with Picasso (Matthew Fox).

Alex Cross is the kind of movie you’ll like if you go to the theaters twice a year, but if you’re a bit more discerning with your money, wait until this makes its way to cable.

Rating: 3.5 out of 10

Photo Credit: Sidney Baldwin/Summit Entertainment

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