Arts & Entertainment - Movie Review: Alex Cross
The titular character of Alex Cross, based on New York Times best-selling novelist James Patterson’s super-cop character, was originally brought to life by Oscar winner Morgan Freeman (1997’s Kiss The Girls and in 2001’s Along Came A Spider).
So when Hollywood in its infinite wisdom decided to reboot the franchise (which did fair to middling even with the great Freeman) with Alex Cross (an extremely loose adaptation of Patterson’s Cross novel), it gets Tyler Perry to replace an actor of Freeman’s caliber. Yes, Tyler Perry, best known for the Madea comedies where he dresses in drag as an old grandma.
Give Perry credit: He’s trying to expand an actor, but maybe succeeding Freeman was a little too ambitious in what is a very uneven thriller that relies more on shock value than plot. Set in Detroit (where it was filmed, as well as Cleveland), Alex – a homicide detective with a doctorate in psychology from Johns Hopkins University – is on the trail of a brutal serial killer with special forces training called the Butcher (Matthew Fox of TV’s Lost). The Butcher leaves charcoal drawings of his victims at his crime scenes, earning him the nickname Picasso, and drives a Cadillac CTS in what is a blatant show of product placement.
Fox is a far cry from Dr. Jack Shephard, his heroic character on Lost, with his muscular physique (he really worked out for this role), shaved head, and tattoos. However, his performance as a serial killer is more generic and clichéd than it is nuanced and riveting. If anything, it’s an over-the-top cookie-cutter performance.
Alex and his team of cops (Rachel Nichols of TV’s Alias and Edward Burns of Saving Private Ryan) stop one of the Butcher’s assassination attempts. As revenge, he brutally murders Monica (Nichols) and Alex’s wife Maria (Carmen Ejogo, Sparkle) later that same night before Alex’s eyes. To up the angst level, Maria was pregnant. Alex is subsequently taken off the case, goes rogue, yet is the only one who can predict the Butcher’s next move, defies orders, and fights him in what turns into a clichéd and mindless slugfest, and saves the day at the end. Ho hum.
Then again, mindless slugfests are all director Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious) knows. That, and Tyler Perry is no Morgan Freeman.