Stepping out from his usual Madea role, Tyler Perry cross-dresses as Morgan Freeman in the latest James Patterson thriller book adaptation, Alex Cross. Previously depicted by an older Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came A Spider, Perry wasn’t the first, second or third choice by fans for the part. And Rightly so. But the biggest faults found in Alex Cross all point to action heavyweight Rob Cohen’s poor directing and the awful script writing. It takes true dedication to mess up great storytelling, especially when it’s laid out for you in a popular book series. Sadly, Cohen is up for the task. The result is a hackneyed mess, with glimmers of quality displayed by Matthew Fox.
The whole world let out a deep sigh when producers announced that the famous dress-wearing funnyman, Perry, would take over the part of FBI psychologist Alex Cross in the reboot of a long neglected franchise. The question was raised; can a successful comedy entertainer best known for performing in drag, shake the past and deliver a believable leading action star? The results came pouring in soon after and the world answered with a definite no. With his dead eyes and dull demeanor, he fails to be convincing, especially in the hardboiled combat scenes. The saving grace for Perry though, which might overshadow his poor performance, is that there is a lot worse wrong with Alex Cross. For starters, instead of using a direct adaptation of the James Patterson books, the writers decided to concoct an origin story that plays out much like a buddy-cop film. With so many references (an impressive 17 books) available, why try to develop a unique story? Secondly, most of the detective work here plays out like a bad episode of Scooby Doo, with tons of guess-work and not a lot of believable investigating. Unfortunately, in the end, it all falls into familiar cop-movie terrain. Thirdly, most of the talented actors featured here seem completely off their A-game. Of course it doesn’t help that Perry snuck in a few of his own acting buddies here and there.
The premise is a simple one. Serving as a prequel to the Freeman films, Detective Cross, a family man, is chasing down a homicidal maniac nicknamed Picasso, an artist who likes to torture his victims to death. When Cross starts interfering with his plans for destruction, Picasso makes everything a lot more personal. Together with the help of his partner, Tommy Kane (Edward Burns), Cross needs to track down the killer before it’s too late.
The actor most invested in the material is Fox, who plays the menacing bad guy with a lot of conviction. Perry, on the other hand, while ambitious and admirable, doesn’t have the acting chops to pull of such a deep and complicated character. Again, the blame all falls on Cohen who doesn’t have a clue how to interpret the screenplay into a believable adaptation. Had it not been for the selection of A-grade actors this would easily be classified as a B-grade movie.
Cross it off your list of watchable movies.