Tyler Perry has carved out a very nice career for himself playing Madea, the sassy, gun-toting elderly woman that first brought the writer-director fame. Now, he’s trying to branch out further into the mainstream with Alex Cross, a reboot of the franchise that previously starred Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came A Spider.
Based on the novel Cross by James Patterson, Alex Cross finds the psychologist tracking an assassin (Matthew Fox, looking like he’s tweaking on meth) who has his sights set on a French businessman that wants to revitalize Detroit. Things get personal for Cross when the killer targets his family.
The script, by Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson, jettisons whatever pyschological elements the original novel had in favor of a stripped down, bare bones action thriller. It also strips down the story and dialogue into something the lowest common denominator can digest. The original Cross films were fun and full of twists; Cross was sort of a modern day Sherlock Holmes, able to get inside the head of his adversaries. Perry’s version of the character is a monotone man that everyone regards as a genius, but never has a chance to show it. The film also stars Edward Burns, playing a variation of himself, and John C. Reilly as a police chief more concerned with his image than the law. Because we’ve never seen a police chief like that before.
Director Rob Cohen and company treat the film as nothing more than a paycheck, with camera shots that seem to focus on unimportant objects then move on to something else that might look cool. Cohen, who hasn’t made a decent film since the original The Fast and the Furious, shoots the movie as if a constantly roaming camera will make up for whatever excitement the plot lacks. Hint: it doesn’t.
Casting Perry as Cross is a smart move. With his built-in audience, he has a great chance to cross over into the mainstream, provided his Madea fans come with him for the journey. He’ll have to wait another film to complete his transition, since Alex Cross is not going to win him any new fans.
Alex Cross is an uninspired, lazy film made for people who want to spend a movie texting their friends instead of paying attention to what’s transpiring on the screen. In that regard, it’s a massive success. For anyone who actually enjoys paying attention, Cross is about as boring and tedious as they come.