* (out of 5)
October 19, 2012
Tyler Perry as DR. ALEX CROSS
Matthew Fox as PICASSO
Rachel Nichols as MONICA ASHE
Edward Burns as TOMMY KANE
Jean Reno as LEON MERCIER
John C. McGinley as RICHARD BROOKWELL
Directed by: Rob Cohen
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
If you’ve seen any number of Tyler Perry’s Madea movies, you probably don’t think he could sink lower in his career. But he manages to do that in “Alex Cross.”
Based on James Patterson’s best-selling detective series, Tyler Perry plays the title character, a hard-nosed and brilliant cop who faces a new serial killer in Detroit. As Cross tries to track down this mysterious killer (Matthew Fox), he gets too close, and there are personal consequences.
When Alex Cross first showed up in films, he was played by Morgan Freeman in both “Kiss the Girls” and “Along Came a Spider.” I’ve never read Patterson’s books, but I’ve heard it said that Freeman, while a great actor, was miscast because of his age. This time around, they got someone closer to the proper demographic, but Perry just has too soft and cuddly of a persona to really nail the badass nature of the character.
Word is that Idris Elba was original sought for the role, and anyone who has seen even a single frame of the BBC’s “Luther” would know he has the chops to pull it off. Sadly, Perry doesn’t. If you’ve ever wondered whether Tyler Perry could play the badass, the answer to the question is yes, but only if you split the word apart.
Part of the problem with this film is that it’s got Perry’s fingerprints all over it, and not just in the acting department. The general pacing and structure of the story reeks of Perry’s overly dramatic gospel plays. Things escalate too quickly and often with too much off-screen brutality. Things get needlessly grim, even when you’re going for the murder mystery crowd who watches the rape-of-the-week police procedural on television. Still, it’s all wrapped up in a nice, mostly-bloodless PG-13 rating, so it has the veneer of a mainstream film.
There are multiple dragging scenes with Perry and Cicely Tyson as his “Nana Mama” (which makes me wonder if the Muppets got a royalty for that name… doo doo dee doo doo). There’s ear-bleedingly bad dialogue between the two that hit upon almost every cliche in the book like “I’ll meet his soul at the gates of hell” and “judge, jury and executioner.”
Watching Perry try to emote in his dramatic scenes is as uncomfortable as watching your grandparents make out. He tries… he really tries. But he fails in the most spectacular of ways.
Then there’s Matthew Fox, who reaches the other extreme. Still trying to live down his legacy on “Lost” and some really weak roles like Racer X in “Speed Racer,” Fox trimmed down and puts on the crazy eyes as the serial killer. However, he oversells the crazy and becomes a caricature. Add to this the fact that he channels about a dozen other performances, including Jeff Goldblum in “The Fly,” and you have a mano-y-mano build-up of nonsense.
And finally, there’s Edward Burns… who is Edward Burns. Who the hell told this guy that he could have an acting career?
“Alex Cross” is a chore to watch, with needlessly herky-jerky cinematography, a painfully predictable plot and some of the worst acting you’ll see in a Summit picture until “Breaking Dawn: Part II” comes out next month.
If only Tyler Perry also played the serial killer as Madea, this movie could have been saved.
Actually, come to think of it, that probably wouldn’t have saved it either.