After a pair of successful big screen outings for novelist James Patterson’s beloved psychologist and detective Alex Cross starring Morgan Freeman in the 90s, comes the reboot-slash-prequel starring Tyler Perry as the titular character in a film that isn’t even a tenth of what Freeman’s competent, but still disposable outings were. This film is a perfect storm of awfulness that manages to get every detail wrong in the biggest of ways.
Before he became the biggest profiler for the FBI, Alex Cross was simply a Detroit cop hot on the heels of an assassin (Matthew Fox) that has targeted everyone around a well connected French businessman (Jean Reno). Together with his team (including partner Ed Burns) they engage in a deadly game of cat and mouse that turns personal in some of the sleaziest ways possible.
Patterson’s books were never one for subtlety. They’re over the top yarns with short chapters perfectly designed for airplane reading, but there’s far less to get invested in during this big screen porting that’s bereft of any sort of logic, reasoning, or tact. The entire opening twenty minutes of the film gets wasted on languid expository dialogue that tells instead of shows and not one, but two action sequences that have absolutely nothing to do with the movie at all and are never explained.
Rob Cohen has proven in the past to be a competent action director, but here his talents are wasted with cut rate CGI and impossible to follow editing. There’s nothing he can do to save it, and the cast isn’t doing him any favours.
Burns has played this kind of role in his sleep before, and Fox isn’t so much menacing as he seems over caffeinated and emaciated. It’s a great transformation saddled with a strangely goofy performance. Not even the usually reliable Reno is able to keep his dignity in this mess, and he was in Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla.
But it’s Perry who’s worst of all. He’s laughably bad and woefully incapable of being an action hero or the brilliant mind that Cross is. A scene where someone close to him dies is spectacularly miscalculated and kills what little entertainment value the movie had when it happens.
The film retains none of Patterson’s energy and instead replaces it with empty bombast and a terribly cast leading man. It might clean up at the Razzie’s this year.
Cast: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Ed Burns
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Top image: A scene from Alex Cross. Courtesy eOne Films.