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Alex Cross

2012-11-05 09:46
 
A brutal crime. A twisted killer. A deadly game.
Alex Cross
What it's about:

Young homicide detective/psychologist Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) meets his match in a serial killer Picasso (Matthew Fox). The two face off in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, but, when the mission gets personal, Cross is pushed to the edge of his moral and psychological limits.

What we thought:

At the beginning of Alex Cross, the titular character is just so happy. How do we know this? Because he tells us so. He lifts his grandmother up in a sudden hug and then tells her that he is "just so happy". Then he walks off with a spring in his step and, presumably, a song in his heart. Big mistake. With a lovely home, two wonderful kids and a beautiful wife pregnant with their third child, Cross is tempting fate with such an open declaration of good cheer.

Fate dutifully replies in the form of a case involving a psychotic killer who’s been hired to knock off the associates of a wealthy businessman as well as the businessman himself. But things go bad when Cross and his team get in the killer's way and find themselves on his to-do list.

This isn't the first time that Hollywood has brought James Patterson's popular character to screen. Morgan Freeman has already played the character in two earlier films. I can't say that I consider either of those movies to be anything more than pretty good, but Freeman is an actor with a great presence and authority about him, and his being in the films certainly helped to elevate them above their expected station. With Tyler Perry taking over the reins from Freeman, this new film is an attempt at rebooting the franchise and taking things back to square one for the character.

Of the cast, it's Matthew Fox as the villain who gives the film's standout turn, all bulging eyes and ripped muscles. Audiences who know Fox from television series Lost will be astonished by his appearance here. Any thoughts of the heroic Jack Shephard set on the island will be forgotten when you watch Fox's muscled nutcase tear into an opponent in a cage fight early in the film.

It's certainly the film's most spirited performance and even if it is a case of crazy with little else to it (Cross describes his pathology in one scene and then that sort of thing is forgotten), Fox's presence is missed whenever the focus shifts back to the good guys.

It's a pity that Fox so clearly throws himself into his role when the rest of the cast seems satisfied with phoning in their acting. Burns, as Cross’ partner, seems barely interested and has zero chemistry with Perry, while Rachel Nicol as another member of their team barely makes an impression. And it's a crime to see a talent like John C McGinley, reduced to playing the role of the gruff sergeant. Jean Reno also makes an appearance as a slimy businessman and he hams it up like a pro.

But the bulk of the film's performance issues rest squarely on the shoulders of its leading man. 'Til now, Tyler Perry has largely been known for his work as actor, writer and director on the Madea film series. Here now, in an apparent attempt at breaking the mould, he assays his first true blue serious role. It’s a pity then that Perry is clearly a student of The Furrowed Brow School of Dramatic Arts, and someone who relies almost entirely on frowning for his acting.

Bluntly put, Perry's performance lacks the intensity required for a detective who is able to get into the mind of his demented quarry. Morgan Freeman may have been a cool and mellow customer but there was also a sense that his Alex Cross had something else brewing underneath his cool exterior. This might be as much the fault of the film being set at an earlier stage in the character’s history as it is the fault of a poor performance from Perry but whatever the case, it doesn’t make for a particularly engaging character.

Matters aren't helped by a script with flat dialogue that shows little regard for things like drama or building a story. The script also fails to really challenge or test its characters. If your lead character is one with the intuitive skills of Sherlock Holmes while also having a Degree in Criminal Psychology, then it would be nice to see those skills being put to the test. Instead, Cross' talents are rarely taken out for show and never in any way that really engages or impresses the audience.

It has to be said that Rob Cohen is completely unsuited for this kind of film. A film about a character with a facility for seeing all kinds of details requires a director with just as much of an appreciation for the little minutiae, a skill that Cohen has hardly revealed with films like The Mummy 3, The Fast and The Furious and XXX.

Alex Cross is a film with a great deal of incident but not much of actual value. It has a few impressive set-pieces, but it lacks any real dramatic heft and the performances, barring Matthew Fox's, are flat and uninteresting. It’s hardly worth a visit to the cinema and unless you’re a die-hard fan of the novels, it's doubtful that you would get anything out it.

Read more on:    matthew fox  |  tyler perry  |  movies
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(Comments may be edited or deleted at the Channel24 editors’ discretion)
lillian baker 11/5/2012 4:07 PM
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excnent great...............
Leo 11/6/2012 3:29 PM
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NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Denzel Washington was born to be Alex Cross on screen! OK, and maybe Blair Underwood. Anybody who has read all the books will know that.
Letitia 11/7/2012 1:36 PM
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Tyler Perry just doesnt look like the Alex Cross i have in my mind, darnit!
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