Detroit Homicide detective Dr Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) is pushed to the brink of his moral and physical limits as he tangles with Picasso (Matthew Fox) a ferociously skilled serial killer who revels in torture and pain. Cross and his lifelong buddy and police partner Tommy Kane (Edward Burns) try to prevent Picasso from killing the man they think he is targeting, French-born industrialist Mercier (Jean Reno).
Review by Louise Keller:
Unsure whether it aspires to be a police procedural, an action thriller, a revenge drama or a buddy movie, Alex Cross is a mess of a film, devoid of tension and a central performance by Tyler Perry that falls flat. Adapted from James Patterson's novel Cross, Perry takes up the mantle of homicide detective Alex Cross, previously played by Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls (1997) and Along Came a Spider (2001). But where Freeman excelled, Perry does not and even director Rob Cohen (The Fast and The Furious) seems at a loss. The camera shakes, seemingly for the sake of it and there is no cohesion to what should be a tense, taut thriller with a powerful dramatic arc.
Cross is one of those intuitive guys who can sense everything - from the scrambled eggs you had for breakfast to the next step the killer might take. But instead of the character having credence, we get the feeling that there is sleight of hand at play and everything is done for effect. By trying to establish a warm family life between Cross and his wife Maria (Carmen Ejogo, lovely), the dynamic of the central story line involving the mean-looking, tattooed killer (Matthew Fox) becomes sidelined. Cross is far more credible as the loving husband and father than in the hard-nosed action scenes on which the film relies. The most moving scene takes place between Cross and his young daughter Janelle (Yara Shahidi) and Cicely Tyson makes an impression as the stern Nana Mama.
As the sadistic, depraved, tattooed Picasso, an extremely lean Matthew Fox is chilling. Yet, apart from a few gruesome scenes in which we watch as he shows his fascination of pain (and leaves his trademark charcoal sketches at the scene of the crime), Cohen's direction never allows tension to build. Jean Reno, looking tired and bored, plays multi-millionaire businessman Mercier; he does not even convince of his passion for Louis XIII cognac or his 14 carat ruby ring. Although we are told Picasso is a man who never wavers from his plan, the plot tells us differently as Cross and partners become targets.
Edward Burns is wasted as Cross's side-kick Tommy Kane and the relationship with his offsider Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols) is nothing but a token diversion offering the opportunity of a sex scene. Never mind how many shattering glass walls, big explosions and stunts take place, everything is fragmented and nothing excites. Even the climactic scene in which Cross and Picasso come face to face falls flat, whereas we should be holding our breaths as we perch on the edge of our seats. Cross this one off your movie list.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Alex Cross is angry all-right, and no wonder ... but I won't spoil it by revealing what makes him REALLY angry, in case you decide to see the film. I don't much recommend it, though, despite some fine performances, especially from Tyler Perry as Cross, Cicely Tyson as his mother, Yara Shahidi as his young daughter, Carmen Ejogo as his wife and Matthew Fox as the eerily crazed serial killer with the preposterous name of Picasso. Actually, he has created a twitching, paranoid psychotic, who is also razor sharp and technically adept. Still, it fits the story.
Sadly, French favourite Jean Reno is not at his best as wealthy businessman Mercier, and his character is shallow and one dimensional. But as his drugged assistant Paramita, Jessalyn Wanlim is terrific and funny in her one and only scene.
The screenplay and direction deliver several scenes that are unintentionally funny, being either too leaden or too ridiculous. It doesn't help that Dr Alex Scott is more of a know-all than a brilliant detective a la Sherlock Holmes, and some of his deductions are plain silly. Indeed, much of the screenplay is incredible - but not in a good way. Any coherence has been minimised in favour of playing up the serial killer's sadistic pleasure and his apparent ability to do just about anything to engineer his attacks, no matter how complex or unlikely.
For example, he calls Cross on the mobile when Mr and Mrs Cross are out having a celebratory dinner. His mobile in hand, Picasso has set himself up on a nearby roof with a high powered rifle. Cross takes the call and walks out to talk privately; he could have gone and stood anywhere but he stands just where Picasso wants him, so he can take aim without moving an inch.
I haven't read the novel so I can't comment on the adaptation, but as an action thriller it seems perfunctory and unfinished.
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ALEX CROSS (M)
CAST: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Rachel Nichols, Giancarlo Esposito, Jean Reno, Edward Burns, John C. McGinley, Carmen Ejogo, Chad Lindberg, Yara Shahidi, Cicely Tyson
PRODUCER: Bill Block, Steve Bowen, Randall Emmett, Leopoldo Gout, Paul Hanson, James Patterson
DIRECTOR: Rob Cohen
SCRIPT: Marc Moss, Kerry Williamson (novel by James Patterson)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ricardo Della Rosa
EDITOR: Matt Diezel, Thom Noble
MUSIC: John Debney
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Laura Fox
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 8, 2012
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.