Review: Alex Cross (2012)

Detective Alex Cross is back in the reboot of the popular James Patterson books, directed by Rob Cohen and starring Tyler Perry and Matthew Fox.

Alex CrossTrying to reboot a book franchise with a younger version of the main hero sounds a lot like Jack Ryan in The Sum of All Fears. Where that failed, Alex Cross fails even more. The other connection to both of these is Morgan Freeman, and even he realised that the character was not worth saving after the dreadful Along Came a Spider. Yet along comes a younger, dull version of himself in the form of comedy actor Tyler Perry. Despite Matthew Fox doing a Christian Bale-esque body transformation, don’t expect anything near the quality of Kiss of the Girls. Or even Along Came a Spider.

Alex Cross (Perry) and his partners, Thomas (Ed Burns) and Monica (Rachel Nichols), are the dream team of crime solving in Detroit. They are in pursuit of psychotic killer Picasso (Fox), who is torturing and murdering those connected to Leon Mercier (Jean Reno), a foreign businessman attempting to regenerate the city. With Cross contemplating moving to the FBI in Washington, things get a little personal when Picasso targets his family and those close to him. It boils down to a battle between the detective and the criminal mastermind, but is there more at play than meets the eye?

As with most crime thrillers you would expect all the elements which come with that: suspenseful plot, anticipated showdowns and dramatic twists aplenty. This has none of that. The twists involve throwaway supporting characters you couldn’t care less about, and the only memorable confrontation is between Cross’s team and some German corporate stereotype – and all for the wrong reasons (comedy).

Rob Cohen has plenty of experience directing OTT big-budget action flicks like xXx, but here he just seems at odds with whether he should play things straight or go overboard. It’s a mix of both and scenes such as firing an RPG from a moving monorail in the city centre works about as well as a comedy actor taking over a serious Morgan Freeman role.

Freeman created an intelligent, compassionate and likeable Cross, one you can understand why fans would want his character to continue on through numerous stories (as in the books). Tyler Perry, although portraying the younger-years version, just comes off as a know-it-all pompous egomaniac – not to mention one without morals, bending all the police rules at will (there’s even one scene where he has a police officer’s eyes taped up).

Alex Cross is a disaster, only watchable to a certain extent but certainly nothing you would want to go out of your way to see. Fans of Matthew Fox may get a kick out of him playing a bad guy and how he has absolutely zero fat on him. Other than that, you’re left with flabby writing on a bloated TV-style production, topped off with hammy acting. You don’t need Cross’s detective skills to figure out why this was contender for worst film of 2012.

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