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REVIEW- Tyler Perry's 'Alex Cross' Is A Bust PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Germain   
Thursday, 25 October 2012 06:05


Matthew Fox, Tyler Perry and Edward Burns attend as Summit Entertainment presents the Premiere of “Alex Cross” at The ArcLight Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles, CA on Monday, October 15, 2012

James Patterson titled his 12th Alex Cross crime novel simply "Cross.'' The filmmakers who adapted it expanded the title to "Alex Cross.''

They might as well have gone for broke and called it "Tyler Perry's Madea's Stab at Expanding Her-His Hollywood Marketability as James Patterson's Alex Cross.''

Perry's name will draw his fans in. Patterson's name will draw his fans in. There's no trace of Madea in director Rob Cohen's adaptation, yet the spirit of the sassy grandma inevitably hangs over the project for viewers curious to see Perry playing it straight and dramatic.

Alex Cross the man and "Alex Cross'' the movie wind up suffering for it. It's perfectly rea-sonable for Perry to try to broaden his enormous popu-larity beyond the Madea line-age in his own raucous portraits of family life. It's also perfectly reasonable to say that casting Perry as Cross was a bad idea, though it's not necessarily the worst in a movie built on bad ideas.

Perry has little allure as sup-posedly brilliant criminal pro-filer Cross. He looks the part of Patterson's big, athletic hero. And no one expects a Morgan Freeman, who played Cross in "Kiss the Girls'' and "Along Came a Spider.'' But Perry is low-key bordering on sleep-walker dull, and the standard-issue cop-vs.-serial-killer story presents Cross as more of a dopey psycho-babbler than a guy whose incisive mind cuts right to the heart of the case.

In this scenario, Cross is early on in his career, a star on the Detroit police department along with partner and best pal Thomas Kane (Edward Burns). They're tracking a killer code-named Picasso (Matthew Fox) who's working his way up the food chain with murders and attempted murders of execs at an international conglomerate, with the big boss, Giles Mercier (Jean Reno), clearly the ulti-mate target.

It's unclear just how the showy crimes against under-lings are going to get Picasso closer to his goal, rather than simply alerting authorities to put extra security on Mercier. But such is the hazy thinking of the twisted mind, and such is the hazier thinking of Hollywood hacks who don't care about making sense.

It made enough sense to Patterson, though, a producer on the movie.

Director Cohen ("The Fast and the Furious'') and screenwriters Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson weave in as bland a home-life as imaginable for Cross, with his perfect wife (Carmen Ejogo), their perfect kids and his per-fect live-in mom (Cicely Tyson). The filmmakers offer a miserly personal life for Kane, who's feel-ing his way through a new romance with a fel-low detective (Monica Ashe).

As the irascible police chief, John C. McGinley looks permanently con-stipated and wishing he could be anywhere but here.

Unlike Freeman's R-rated Alex Cross movies, the grisly crimes are only talking points, the images sani-tized to a Perry-friendly PG-13 level. Cohen's strong suit usually is action, but fights, chas-es and gunplay are mostly a jumble of quick cuts. An opening scene in which Cross literally dodges a bullet a second or more after it's fired kind of sums up the action trajectory, which even-tually devolves from bad police procedural into a bad "Dirty Harry'' copycat.

Fox plays Picasso like a drop-out from the Heath Ledger's Joker school of cackling vil-lainy, repeatedly calling Cross on the phone to toss around dreary taunts.

Cross' profile technique amounts to "I don't have any concrete information about this perp so I'm going to spout vague generalities while fur-rowing my brow.'' He blathers on about Picasso as a rogue sociopath, a narcissist out to make someone suffer, maybe his mom or his dad or himself or the whole world.

"Who the hell knows?'' Cross says.

Tyler Perry's Alex Cross cer-tainly doesn't. Neither does Tyler Perry.

"Alex Cross,'' a Summit Entertainment release, is rated PG-13 for violence including disturbing images, sexual con-tent, language, drug references and nudity. Running time: 102 minutes. One and a half stars out of four

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 October 2012 06:19