Tyler Perry, Edward Burns, Jean Reno, Matthew Fox, Rachel Nichols DIRECTED BY
Rob Cohen SCREENPLAY
James Patterson (Novel), Kerry Williamson, Marc Moss MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13 RUNNING TIME
101 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY
Summit Entertainment DVD EXTRAS
Director's Commentary; Featurette; Deleted Scenes
There are times as a film critic when you just want to say "It sucks!" and be done with it. It's hard, sometimes, to not feel like even giving a film two hours of one's time is enough. Sometimes, the time put into writing a review feels like too much effort for too little reward.
Alex Cross is such a time.
If you can surrender yourself to this incredibly formulaic and relatively uneventful action flick, which actually is dumbed down from most of Rob Cohen's already dumbed down flicks, then more power to you. Have yourself a ball. But, if you require even a moment of thought to be put into your films then there's a pretty good chance you're going to despise Alex Cross, a film that is so bad it almost has you wishing that Perry would head off-screen and return in drag.
To be fair to Perry, he's actually not the problem here. He's saddled with insipid dialogue, ridiculous set-ups and too much empty space to ever have a hope of coming off convincing here as a gritty homicide detective. My gut tells me that Perry, mostly known for his comedy side, can actually pull off a role like this one. He just doesn't do so here.
In case you haven't a clue, Alex Cross is an attempted reboot of James Patterson-inspired franchise that began with Morgan Freeman and Kiss the Girls and Along Came the Spider. It has been ten years now, so the chalky taste is out of our mouths from those films, so someone had the brain storm to tap into the Tyler Perry universe for a reboot and a rather obvious attempt at getting a franchise going again.
Will it work? Probably not on any grand scale, though Perry certain has his loyal legion of fans who will likely show up on opening weekend anyway. The story involves our detective, a nice guy with an angry side, whose career has been going along so swimmingly that he's contemplating leaving Detroit behind for an FBI gig in Washington D.C. Before he can get all packed up to go, however, a serial killer begins targeting Detroit's 1%.
Wait a minute. Detroit has a 1%?
Perry, who just so happens to be both a psychologist and one darn fine detective, gets on the job and quickly starts to figure things out. Serial killers HATE to be figured out. So, our game of "cat and mouse" gets increasingly evil and violent.
Yes, it's true. Perry can play a dark side.
The killer in question goes by the moniker of Picasso (Matthew Fox) and, indeed, his killings are rather artistically impressive. However, there's virtually no suspense built up in any of them because director Rob Cohen has somehow misplaced his Fast & Furious mojo or traded it in for a Scooby Doo style of suspense. Edward Burns, who has seemingly never met a bad script he won't say "Yes!" to, is here as Cross's childhood buddy and now police partner. Cicely Tyson has a nice turn here as Cross's mother, though Cicely Tyson could probably smile at the screen and pick up critical kudos.
There are moments, ever so fleeting ones, of decent action in the film. Unfortunately, they are infused with the absolutely horrid dialogue from co-writers Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson. This is ultimately a film that comes down to the question "Can Tyler Perry carry the film?"
The answer is "Probably, if he'd been given a decent film to carry." Perry can't save a bad film, at least not this one, On an opening weekend where it faces off with the fourth film in the Paranormal Activity franchise, the odds are strongly in favor that Alex is going to become much more cross when he sees his box-office receipts this weekend.