Book detective butchered again
Strike three, Dr Alex Cross, you’re out.
The perceptive detective from the James Patterson novels has made an unlikely return to cinema screens 11 years after Morgan Freeman embodied the character in Along Came a Spider, and before that Kiss the Girls.
A more hackneyed and po-faced pair of action-thrillers you will struggle to find, but since everything has to be a frickin’ franchise or reboot these days, here we have Alex Cross, which takes at least 20 years off the protagonist, no doubt in the hope of further sequels.
The $20 millon box office and 4.8/10 IMBD.com rating has likely put paid to that.
From the opening scene it is clear director Rob Cohen is desperate to inject more physicality and aggression into Dr Cross, who is now played by Tyler Perry. Watch him run, watch him shoot, watch him shout, as his team brings down a bad guy in a Detroit construction site.
Perhaps Cohen wanted to eradicate the the calm and delicacy of Freeman, who was more accustomed to stroking his beard and wearing a scarf well than chasing bad guys with a sawn-off shotgun. Perhaps he wanted the audience to quickly forget Tyler is most famous for dressing up as an elderly women in ‘‘Madea’’ movies, or maybe he’s just lazy – content to mine the same burly machismo at play in his earlier pictures ( The Fast & The Furious, xXx).
Ultimately what he has succeeded in doing is taking the action movie back 30 years. Alex Cross is a hackneyed bore, a Lethal Weapon wannabe firing blanks. The dialogue is as weak as 10-day-old urine, and Dr Cross’ buddy cop moments with his partner (Edward Burns – has an indie film-maker ever fallen on such hard times?) are laughably forced.
We even get a ranting police chief (John C McGinley), who falls just short of calling for Dr Cross’ badge during the hunt for a sociopathic assassin.
Which brings us to Picasso, played by Matthew Fox ( Lost). The weight loss/physical transformation by the actor into a reptilian creepshow of sinew and veins is impressive, but the character is too cartoonish to be taken seriously.
The villain – who ludicrously leaves the police a clue indicating his next victim, then goes on a vengeful rampage when his plan is thwarted – is too reliant on facial tics and grimaces. I half expected him to start salivating like Wile E Coyote.
Hollywood could certainly do with a popular franchise that has a strong black protagonist, so it’s a shame Alex Cross is such a letdown.
Tyler Perry and Edward Burns wade through cop movie conventions in banal action-thriller Alex Cross.