‘Alex Cross’ Review

Published 1 year ago by

Alex Cross Reviews starring Tyler Perry and Matthew Fox Alex Cross Review

Alex Cross acts as prequel/reboot of the movie franchise centered around author James Patterson’s popular detective character, who was previously played by Morgan Freeman in the films Kiss the Girls (1997) and Along Came a Spider (2001). Media mogul Tyler Perry steps into the role of Cross this time, in an origin story about how the brilliant investigator went from head of a Detroit police special unit, to the older, wiser, FBI profiler seen in in the aforementioned films.

When a ruthless assassin (Matthew Fox) shows up in town to off some high-ranking business people, Cross and his team step in to intervene. However, when the killer turns his attention on Cross, it proves to have dire consequences for the lawman and those around him. Before long, Dr. Cross is no longer on a case – he’s locked into a battle to hold on to everything (and everyone) he holds dear.

Directed by action movie veteran Rob Cohen (Fast and the Furious, xXxThe Mummy 3Stealth), Alex Cross fits in lock-and-step with the other entries of the filmmaker’s resume: thin, B-movie genre entertainment. That’s not to say there isn’t anything to enjoy in the film, but unlike the Freeman-era of Cross films, the 2012 version is less concerned with substance and character, and more concerned with providing the standard set piece-to-set piece thrills, with a heavy dramatic piece wedged awkwardly into the middle. And nothing about it feels fresh or necessary.

Carmen Ejogo and Tyler Perry in Alex Cross 2012 Alex Cross Review

Cohen – who has never been shy about playing in the sand box of modern CGI filmmaking – has created a film that feels strangely anachronistic. From the cinematography to the shot choices, to the bad dialogue, makeup and stunt work, it wouldn’t be hard to convince an uninformed viewer that Alex Cross was released years before Kiss the Girls, as it has pretty much every trademark of an early-to-mid-90s, B-movie action flick (I had  Die Hard 3 deja vu several times while watching it).

As mentioned, the script by newcomer Kerry Williamson and Marc Moss (who wrote Along Came a Spider - the inferior Morgan Freeman Cross film) hits some pretty uneven beats. The early establishment of our killer is interesting, but the establishment of our detectives is awkward and obvious; the first act of mystery and action is compelling enough, but then things suddenly lurch into an intense drama come the second act. By the time the third act starts, the narrative is flailing badly, focus is lost, many of the plot points and red herrings dangled early on get ignored entirely, and things fizzle out into an unimpressive and ultimately underwhelming climax, with a lot of muddled story leftover.

Tyler Perry is a mixed bag as Cross. He conveys the character’s intellect well, and carries the heavier dramatic portions better than a lot of other leading men could, but the former stage play writer/actor also carries too much melodrama in his dialogue delivery at times, and it is hard to view him as an action star in any kind of way. The previous films wisely kept the action stunts at a minimum.

Matthew Fox in Alex Cross 2012 570x378 Alex Cross Review

Matthew Fox in Alex Cross

Matthew Fox is almost too freaky as the killer (who’s never actually named in the film), having undergone a radical physical transformation from his role as Dr. Jack on Lost. Here, Fox is nothing but lean muscle; a kind of jacked version of Christian Bale in The Machinist. Add to that his wild stare, twitch mannerisms  and off-beat delivery, and it’s safe to say that the actor (through sheer force of will) livens up what is ostensibly an undercooked character. In many ways, it’s Fox (not Perry) who carries this film.

There are a lot of solid actors filling out the supporting cast – though almost every one of them gets short-changed, given the talent. A distracting subplot involving Cross’ teammates (played by Ed Burns and Rachel Nichols) has none of the impact it’s supposed to; iconic actress Cicely Tyson (as Cross’ mother) interacts with Perry as if the two are in a stage play (that overdose of melodrama I mentioned); while quality character actors like Jean Reno (The Professional), John C. McGinely (Scrubs) and Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) are rationed out minimal screen time to play one-dimensional bit characters.

Tyler Perry Rachel Nichols and Ed Burns in Alex Cross 2012 Alex Cross Review

Tyler Perry, Rachel Nichols and Ed Burns in ‘Alex Cross’

Where Alex Cross does get it right is in the tense scenes of cat-and-mouse between Cross and the killer. There are a couple set piece moments that definitely fulfill the promise of a good thriller – but again, the final act is so shoddy that an overall sense of payoff is never achieved. When your “big finish” consists of shaky-cam fight choreography and shots so poorly conceived that you can see the stuntman’s wig, it’s hard to call the movie a winner. Still, Perry is solid enough that – in the hands of a better director, and with a script that doesn’t try to depict Cross as an action hero – he could conceivably carry another installment of the franchise.

Unfortunately for Dr. Cross, getting to that next chapter might be a hard sell for audiences, as there is little in this current one to leave them hungry for more.

Alex Cross is now playing in theaters. It is Rated PG-13 for violence including disturbing images, sexual content, language, drug references, and nudity.

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Our Rating:

2 out of 5
(Okay)

TAGS: alex cross

57 Comments

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  1. I’ve just finished reading the book on which this movie is based on and like many other of Patterson’s masterpieces, it is very good. The movie Alex Cross releases today in UK cinemas, I’ve seen the trailer countless times, “oh by the way, you have a very pretty wife”, film look’s amazing and I’ve been really excited to see this movie even though I’ve never heard of this Tyler Perry guy. I guess Denzel was busy. But anyways, new actor, so I’m willing to give him a chance to see if he can pull off a great Alex Cross! I was kinda shocked to see that my local cinema had only given this movie 1 star though, really? I’ve read nearly all the comments above ^, is this movie really as bad as people are making it out to be? I loved Freeman in previous 2 Cross movies. I suppose the most striking difference is that Freeman was older and thin but Tyler is clearly more beefed up and brawny than Freeman. When I read the book Alex Cross in my mind I kept picturing Idris Elba as Alex, he was great in Luther, he would just have to work on an American accent. Anyways, despite the reviews, I will see this movie at cinemas probably this Monday coming and why not? I’m a James Patterson fan.

  2. Hi guys

    Check out my Alex Cross Review at my blog of Cool Movies TV Shows and Books

    http://coolmoviesandtvshows.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/alex-cross-review.html

    Tell me what you think.

    Thanx

  3. Thought it was good although surprised that Tyler Perry was playing the role of Cross because Morgan Freeman never got physical in the role. To be honest, I thought Perry pulled it off and the movie was entertaining and I enjoyed it!

  4. To be honest, I thought Perry pulled it off and the movie was entertaining and I enjoyed it!

  5. I read the book that this movie was based on and loved it! James Patterson rocks. I can’t wait to watch this movie. (Sorry, but I’m more of a reader than a movie-goer. One of my favorite Patterson-esque author is MA Comley. I loved The Justice Series! Another of my favs is Linda Prather who writes the Jacody Ives Mystery series. Read!) Thanks for the movie review!

  6. First I apologize up front for any punctual errors I am trying to use my phone to do this and having a hard time keeping the screen in place. I have read all of the James Patterson books with Alex Cross and this movie was not based on Cross I believe it was a start to the character of Alex Cross it held true to Maria being his first wife which is not in the book Cross. It’s at the beginning of the story line for Alex Cross. I am not sure why the critics are claiming that this is based on that book I don’t believe that was the intent. I am a fan of Tyler Perry and his movies and I also had thought that Idris would’ve been a good choice and was hesitant to want to see Perry in this role, however after just watching the movie I thought he did good job. I decided not base my opinion while watching, on who else I wanted in the role or who else I had previously seen, and tried to remain neutral. I think that’s why I liked it. I would see another installment with Tyler cast again as well as his partner, children, and Cicely as Nana mama. I liked it.

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