“You don’t cross Alex Cross.” That’s the head-scratching tagline adorning the poster for this new cinematic version of James Patterson’s literary character made famous in the 1990’s by two separate adequately thrilling efforts from Morgan Freeman.
That tagline is perfect though, because just like the movie it tries to be all serious and badass, but instead just leaves you sniggering at it’s awfulness.
Alex Cross acts as a prequel of sorts for Freeman’s Along Came A Spider and Kiss the Girls, with the now younger titular Detective Doctor (best nominee for “Real Title That Sounds Made Up” that I’ve heard in ages) still just a Homicide detective, working one last case before putting his psychology doctorate to use and taking a job as the FBI profiler we previously came to know. And with that role now being taken over by part-time cranky old black lady, full-time one man BET awards machine, Tyler Perry, you’re probably be a bit wary. Madea replacing God? That’s not exactly an even swap. But Perry acquits himself decently enough, and by “decently enough” I just mean that you won’t immediately feel the urge to put your boot heel on his throat.
The film is billed as an action thriller and with the likes of the original The Fast and the Furious, Daylight and Stealth among others in his filmography, you’d expect director Rob Cohen to at least be able to handle the “action bit”. But you’d be wrong. So very eyeball-searingly wrong. Action sequences are structured and shot so lazily that you’ll have a hard time actually figuring out what you’re actually looking at in sequences that appear to have been edited together by Helen Keller. This is extra annoying when you already have a film lead that clearly is more at home in bad makeup and a bloomer than engaging in running gun battles and fist fights.
Speaking of fist fights, Perry’s main pugilistic adversary comes in the form of Lost alum Matthew Fox. With a physique shredded to the point of looking like the most athletic meth addict you have ever seen, Fox’s hired killer Picasso is simply a human hurricane of bug-eyed insanity (complete with crazy naked workout montage) who just lays a path of destruction throughout the film. It’s a memorable performance and certainly a far cry from anything Fox has previously done.
In fact, to Tyler Perry and Matthew Fox’s benefit, they both actually do a respectable job with what they’re given to work with (well more so Fox than Perry), but just like you can’t give Sebastian Vettel a donkey and expect him to win the Monaco Grand Prix, you simply cannot expect these men to spin gold from a turd.
The fault of that turdishness lies firmly at the brown-stained feet of writers Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson. You’ll notice that up until now, I haven’t really mentioned plot specifics, and that’s simply because the script is so damn laughably bad in places.
Due to some plodding pacing and dialogue (combined with Rob Cohen’s utterly uninspired direction), what are supposed to be the most emotional scenes of the film has about the same level of emotional sincerity as what you’ll find in an infomercial about mops.
And whereas Freeman’s Cross systematically pieced together clues to solve the case, this Detective Doctor Cross apparently also needs to append “The Great” to his name, as he magically just pulls clues out of thin air at crime scenes. His partner, Tommy Kane, played by the ever average Ed Burns, knows this so he doesn’t even bother with any real detective work but rather just hangs about, waiting for Cross to ouija board his way to the next clue. This policing prestidigitation makes Cross a walking Deus ex Machina, progressing the script whenever the writers couldn’t.
The lazy scripting permeates pretty much every aspect of the film, like with how the death of a central character is relegated to nothing but a single photograph with other supposedly close characters showing about as much remorse as you do when you choose to wear one pair of socks over the other. Or how about how the film’s climactic finale happens completely by accident? Yeah, that’s always a great idea, right?
In the end, with the exception of a just adequate performance from Tyler Perry and an eye-catching one from Matthew Fox, there are just far too many horrible missteps in this movie for me to recommend it. But you know what the worst part of this entire film is? The studios have already greenlit a sequel. Damn, Cross, how’d you pull off that magic trick?
Last Updated: November 1, 2012