Consider the tagline “Don’t ever cross Alex Cross” a fair warning: creativity is at a premium here. A warmed-over relic from the 90’s incompetently directed by Rob Cohen, Alex Cross is a mess from top to bottom. It’s bad enough that the villain and story are preposterous, but we get the bonus of unnecessary cruelty (severed fingers, drugs that paralyze, but keep the victim fully aware, and a real mean streak towards women) and a host of failed attempts at humor. The successful ones come, for example, when the notion of a person firing a bazooka with precision from a moving elevated train is taken seriously.
Tyler Perry, not appearing in drag, stars as Alex Cross. You may remember this character, played by Morgan Freeman, from the successful (at least from a box office perspective) adaptations of the James Patterson novels Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. He’s an ace FBI profiler, and his subject this time is serial killer known as “Picasso” (Fox) because he makes all kinds of cryptic charcoal drawings. Picasso likes torture, pain, and making lots and lots of bug-eyed faces, just so you know he’s crazy. He does know how to push Cross’s buttons, though. After a family tragedy, Cross is pushed to his moral and physical limits in his effort to capture the maniac.
It’d be easy to pin this stinker on Perry, but he’s really the least of the film’s problems. Sure, he acts as if this is an Oscar contender, but Cohen’s direction is horrendous, with the third act shot mostly via bungee cam. The final showdown between Cross and Picasso is an incoherent blur masquerading as an action scene. A slimmed-down and shredded Matthew Fox goes full-on, twitch-laden crazy, but it elicits more snickers than actual intimidation. Plot developments get increasingly ridiculous. The aforementioned bazooka scene is the jewel, but the film also contains one of the most coincidental and downright impossible car crashes I’ve ever seen. This is a direct-to-DVD flick that somehow snaked into theaters. One has to wonder if it’s been collecting dust for a while (there’s a Geico caveman joke). Everything here has been done before, and much, much better.
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Length: 101 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for violence including disturbing images, sexual content, language, drug references, and nudity.
Theatrical Release: October 19, 2012
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Written by: Marc Moss & Kerry Wiliamson. Based upon the novel “Cross” by James Patterson.
Cast: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Jean Reno, Giancarlo Esposito, John C. McGinley