Book de­tec­tive butchered again

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

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 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.

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