Tyler Perry has gotten pretty well known as a director, but outside of his role as Madea in his own films, he is not really known as an actor. Alex Cross signifies a blind leap into the deep end for the actor, taking over a popular literary character; a character that was previously played in movies by Morgan Freeman, no less. You have to admit, the casting choice is intriguing. Sadly, the dive into the deep end is more belly flop than swan dive.
Alex Cross is a detective with the Detroit police department who has an uncanny knack for piecing together evidence and solving crimes. He works with his partner, Tommy, whom he has known since grade school. With a new baby on the way, Alex is considering a desk job as a profiler with the FBI when a trained killer strikes. From the crime scene, Alex decodes that this crime was only the beginning and even thinks he has identified the killer’s next victim. When he gets in the killer’s way, the killer takes it personally and strikes at Cross where it will hurt him the most. The rest of the movie is a revenge thriller with Alex ignoring all of the proper rules of engagement to pursue the deranged killer.
The plot is simple and the few twists that there are can be seen from a mile away. As a character, Cross is portrayed as having a super-human sense of intuition (“the train!”), except, of course, for the single moment when the movie needs him to be wrong so that it can set up its revenge plot. The moments in the movie when Cross reveals what he has discovered about the killer and his plot are done so over-dramatically that it is impossible to take the movie seriously.
Directed by Rob Cohen of The Fast and the Furious fame, Alex Cross is mired by what appears to be the director’s desire to make a serious movie. Everything about this movie is overdone. The manipulative musical score nearly drowns out what might have been key dialogue scenes while swoosh pans awkwardly cut to characters that are in the middle of extremely dramatic soliloquies. Even the product placement is over-the-top (Cadillac, anybody?), making a movie like Demolition Man or Total Recall seem reserved in comparison. All of this added up to scenes that had the entire preview audience laughing when they should have been holding onto the edge of their seats. It’s almost so bad that it’s good. Almost. Even the famous “Wilhelm Scream” is used at an inappropriate time.
Also taking the audience out of the movie are the many instances in which background characters are far too busy. In one scene, while one of the lead actors is talking, a couple of the secondary actors in the background are whispering to each other. That would be fine if what they were whispering about was important or even if it was something that would be revealed to the audience, but apparently they were just as bored as we were.
What once seemed like a fascinating casting choice, Tyler Perry as Alex Cross turns out to be a bust. Whenever the scene calls for him to do something dramatic, he does it to the extreme. He is far too dramatic in a scene in which he delivers a spontaneous psychoanalysis of the killer and goes far overboard with emotion in a key scene near the middle of the movie.
Perry is not alone when it comes to overacting. John C. McGinley tries to channel his sitcom persona into the role of the police chief and Edward Burns… well, you are just hoping that someone will come along and tell him to please just shut up. Also, a romance between Burns’ Tommy and a female cop is thrown in for no apparent reason.
Technically, this could be seen as a reboot of the Alex Cross franchise that previously featured two movies with Morgan Freeman. They are already talking about a sequel. Hopefully, the next movie will be a reboot of the reboot, because the franchise that this movie sets up is not worth continuing.
Alex Cross is rated PG-13 for “violence including disturbing images, sexual content, language, drug references, and nudity.” There was some pretty disturbing stuff here, but most of it is kept off-screen. Still, I was fairly surprised to see that it only had a PG-13 rating.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Alex Cross.