Based on best selling book by the author of “Kiss the Girls” and “Along Came a Spider,” Tyler Perry stars in Alex Cross with Mathew Fox. Can Tyler Perry live up to what Morgan Freeman did for James Patterson’s character or should he have have stuck to playing an angry old lady in drag in the Madea movies?
Normally when I write a movie review, I break it down into two parts: explain the plot to people unaware of the film and give my overall opinion of the acting, direction, and other elements. Alex Cross is so difficult to review in this manner because what you could essentially call a plot is so confusing and boring with absolutely no direction. The movie felt like a Saturday Night Live skit about cliche cop movie lines edited together. You’ll spend the majority of the film’s 96 minute duration watching detectives just talk. There is another huge chunk of the film that feels like dialog directly plagiarized from a Tyler Perry romantic comedy as Alex Cross interacts with his wife. Be prepared, because the first twenty-five minutes is Alex Cross sweet talking his wife into giving him some nookie, while dealing with his wise-talking mama.
Basically, Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) is a detective for the Detroit Police Department who also happens to have a doctorate in criminal psychology and forensics. This means he is way over qualified to work in Detroit. He is a know-it-all boss to a team of detectives that are busy having a love affair behind his back. His ultimate goal is to move his family to Washington DC so he can get his dream job as a profiler for the FBI. His dreams are shot down because his wife doesn’t want to leave Detroit because of the “fantastic” public school system. Let me stop there for a moment. Really? Detroit has a fantastic public school system? This really must be a movie. Another reason Alex wants to get off the savage streets of Detroit is because his wife is pregnant with their third child. Detective Cross wants to take his degree and run off to a cushy desk job behind an FBI desk. But those dreams must be put on hold because a hired assassin is in town to eliminate the top three high rolling business people of the Motor City. The killer, simply known as “Picasso,” is played by Matthew Fox (Lost, Party of Five). It’s up to Alex Cross and his team of detectives to stop him.
Alex Cross was directed by Rob Cohen who is best known for Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, The Fast and The Furious, and xXx. What’s surprising is that his previous movies had a lot of action, and with Dragon, some good story telling and character development. Alex Cross had only subtle hints of both. When you thought you would get some spectacular cat and mouse moments between the hero and the villain, it stops in it tracks for more horribly written dialog and mediocre acting. I also do not understand what up with Cohen’s love for the shakey cam. I’m not even exaggerating, but the camera shakes so horribly, you’d think that Michael J. Fox was holding the steady camera while in the middle of an earthquake. For the final showdown of the film, you almost need to take some sort of motion sickness pills to keep you from throwing up in your seat.
Alex Cross also seemed like a ninety minute commercial for Cadillac, Chevrolet, GM, Onstar, Geico, and Two Men and a Truck. The film pukes all over the audience with product placement. For instance. the killer drives a Cadillac CTS V12 coupe. When he pulls up, the logo on the grill comes at you like as if you was watching a 3D movie. Not convinced? One scene between Tyler Perry and Giancarlo Esposito (Gus from Breaking Bad) actually takes place in the GM Heritage Center with Cadillac neon signs all over the reflections of the cars. Don’t even get me started on the horrible OnStar in-movie commercial where Alex Cross has to explain to his dispatcher how the system works to track and disable the killer’s vehicle. There were so many General Motors references it gives you the feeling you are watching Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. I propose the “Alex Cross Drinking Game.” Every time you see or hear any reference to a GM product: take a drink. I guarantee you and your buddies will be drunk in an hour and a half. Now I am not trying to bash on General Motors products, I proudly have two Chevys in my driveway so please don’t leave me trolling comments that I hate the American auto industry.
The other major flaw of the movie is that you do not care at all for the characters. A couple of the major characters meet their demise and you simply just don’t care. Throughout the film Alex Cross interacts with his partner Tommy Kane (Edward Burns). They are childhood friends who recall ass whoopins from grade school. Instead of all this needless dialog, why not develop the characters in more meaningful relationships. And speaking of relationships, the plot line of the sexual relationship between Edward Burns and Rachel Nichols, who plays Monica Ashe, was totally unnecessary. What made the Morgan Freeman versions of Alex Cross fantastic was the tennis match of wits between his character and the killers. You understood the motivation and psyche of the villain and you cheered for his capture. This movie doesn’t have anything like that. If there was any bright side of the film, it was the presence of Matthew Fox on screen. He was a crazy and disturbing antagonist. They film should have spent more time into the background story into why the killer liked to draw his charcoal portraits or why he is so intense. Where did he get his military training? Does he suffer from post traumatic stress disorder? Did his mommy just not love him enough? Instead the film makers showcased the boring characters and added so many forgettable sub plots. This dumbing down of the intensity may have been because the film was rated PG-13 in contrast to the two previous films being R-Rated. The film couldn’t show much brutality. Imagine if Silence of the Lambs was PG-13. It would have also been a boring movie.
It is really hard for me to tell you to run out to theaters this weekend and see Alex Cross. Take my recommendation and wait for Netflix streaming or when it’s released on TBS with all the other Tyler Perry shows. In the meantime, if you want to see a fantastic cop movie, check out End of Watch if it is still playing in your area. And if you really want to see how fantastic and intelligent James Patterson’s character is, go rent Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls.
In Theaters: October 19th, 2012
Runtime: 1 hour 36 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (for violence including disturbing images, sexual content, language, drug references, and nudity)
Director: Rob Cohen
Cast: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Rachel Nichols, Jean Reno, Carmen Ejogo, John C. MCGinley, Cicely Tyson, Giancarlo Esposito, Dave Bender
Genre: Adaptation, Thriller
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Official Site: http://alexcrossmovie.com