Tyler Perry is one of those auteurs whose work generally seems to inspire either unconditional love or unadulterated hatred from people. He’s only acted in one film that’s not one of his original creations (J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot), and now he will add another reboot to his resume, an adaptation of James Patterson’s I, Alex Cross.
The titular protagonist of Patterson’s novel was previously brought to life by Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman in the films Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Now the skillful psychologist will return to the big screen in the form of Perry – the man behind everyone’s favorite (?) gun-toting grandma, Madea.
Idris Elba was originally approached to star in the new Alex Cross flick last August, but Deadline says that Perry became the lead in just the past few weeks. That could prove problematic, since Elba has a solid following (he was arguably the best thing about both The Losers and Takers last year) and seems a proper fit for the role. Perry is more of a wild card whose fan base is willing to turn out to see his latest relationship melodramas, but may pass on watching him in a crime procedural.
For those not familiar with the character, Alex Cross is an African-American detective and psychologist whose resume includes stints as a consultant for the FBI and Metropolitan Police Department. An elite professional with a messy personal life, Cross has matched wits with serial killers, kidnappers, murderous burglars, and even a cult of vampires on one occasion. It’s a role Freeman handled all too well, but it’s been nine years since the character last appeared in theaters – and in Hollywood nowadays, that means it’s time for a revamp (besides, Freeman’s going to be busy with The Dark Knight Rises as is).
It would be easy (and admittedly not unreasonable) to be dismissive about this casting since Elba has a background in playing sophisticated, capable, men in action-oriented movies, whereas Perry is… well, best versed in the art of cross-dressing and portraying comical creations. The latter was convincing enough as Admiral Richard Barnett in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek and is certainly not without talent, so perhaps Perry will prove himself worthy of following in Freeman’s footsteps.
Arguably the bigger concern to have in regards to I, Alex Cross is that it’s being directed by Rob Cohen, the man behind mindless action blockbusters like The Fast and the Furious and xXx, as well as the the expensive flop, Stealth. On that note – chances are good that most people didn’t wake up this morning and expect to read the words “‘The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor’ filmmaker will direct Madea in a crime thriller.” But, here we are…
I, Alex Cross is tentatively scheduled to begin filming this June. Distributors are currently circling the project, which likely won’t hit theaters earlier than spring of 2012.