Alex Cross (2012)

Starring: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Rachel Nichols, Carmen Ejogo, Cicely Tyson, Giancarlo Esposito, Jean Reno, John C. McGinley, Chad Lindberg, Stephanie Jacobsen, Jessalyn Wanlim, Yara Shahidi, Sayeed Shahidi,  .

Director: Rob Cohen
Rating: PG-13 (for violence including disturbing images, sexual content, language, drug references, and nudity.)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Date: October 19, 2012
Home Video Release Date: TBD
North American Box Office: $TBD

QED Entertainment, Envision Entertainment Corporation, IAC Productions, James Patterson Entertainment, and Summit Entertainment.

Written by: Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson; adapted from the novel “Cross” by James Patterson.

This review was featured at The Rogue Valley Messenger.
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1/2★ (out of 5 stars)

Alex Cross is terrible.  Embarrassing in virtually every single way.  Director Rob Cohen has seemingly lost his mind when it comes to directing films, Tyler Perry is perhaps the worst action-movie star in recent history, and the screenplay by Kerry Williamson and Marc Moss is laughable, illogical, and so amateurish that nothing in it can be taken seriously.  Trashy, salacious, and tasteless, Alex Cross is will likely be the worst film of 2012 when all is said and done, and this comes just days after watching Liam Neeson’s historically bad Taken 2.

Then again, what does it matter?  Large quantities of people love Tyler Perry.  Here, he is attempting to move away from his faith-based Message Movie template and breakout in new and different ways.  And I suppose he has earned that right with his staggering and influential success.  For Perry, other than a brief turn in Star Trek in 2009, he has never acted in a role he has not written and/or directed for himself.  Until now.  And he is a ridiculous action hero.  Sure, he looks imposing physically, standing at 6’5″ and despite an extra darkened shot where he has no shirt on, perhaps to hide some fluff, he seems in shape.  The problem is, he is not athletically gifted in any manner whatsoever and so director Rob Cohen shoots all of Perry’s action scenes in close-up or with a shaky, rapidly moving camera so you cannot tell what Perry is actually doing.  Masking Perry’s inabilities to look convincing in a staged fight or in a shootout only speaks to one of countless other issues present here.

Cross’ supposedly impressive crack team of detectives, comprised of best friend since childhood Tommy (Edward Burns) and Monica (Rachel Nichols), Tommy’s not-so secret girlfriend and fellow detective, has been made aware of a mass killing at the mansion of an Asian woman who is the CFO for a wealthy French businessman’s booming global company.  The businessman (Jean Reno) is looking to invest in the rebirth of Detroit as a booming metropolis.  Which is fine, except the movie, as has been pointed out by those who know, was very clearly shot in and around Cleveland, Ohio and takes no effort to mask this fact at all.  So perhaps the businessman is confused.  Nevertheless, the businessman is the target of a hired assassin who calls himself The Butcher Of Sligo (an emaciated and ridiculous Matthew Fox), and after clue-laden charcoal drawings are found at the crime scene, Cross’ team dub him…wait for it… Picasso.

And if you are wondering why a paid assassin would leave taunting come-and-find-me evidence, I have no answer for you on that one.  Is that really something you want your temp-to-hire contract killer really doing?  I digress.

Investigating the crime scene, they discover the woman had been tied up, had the tips of her fingers severed and placed in a bowl, but endured no other apparent physical trauma.  Cross instantly figures out every single detail, every single moment that transpired once this Butcher Picasso Guy entered the woman’s home.  Cross is so smart that he misses a puncture wound on the victim’s neck, which we watch occur in witnessing the original attack.  When that rather obvious detail he missed is brought to his attention, Cross orders that the puncture wound be investigated immediately.  Wow.  He’s good.

Except he’s not.  The team is not.  The killer is an idiot and director Rob Cohen loses control of the film five minutes in.  Alex Cross is a disaster, but even as a big detractor of his films, the fault is not entirely at Tyler Perry’s feet this time.  Perhaps he should never have taken this role in the first place, but this screenplay, if one wishes to call it that, takes James Patterson’s words and shreds them.  For those familiar with the Cross series, I imagine Alex Cross the movie is akin to the old gag of seeing someone slap a person in the face and before they can respond, the person slaps them a second time.  This movie is the very definition of being the recipient of those slaps.

Matthew Fox, the doctor from “Lost”, plays his Picasso Butcher Killer Guy as if he is in his first month of acting class, uttering inconsistent line readings, trying to find Crazy, Bug-Eyed, and Deranged in his acting handbook and missing the mark every single time.  Edward Burns is nothing more than fodder for Perry to wax philosophical to, always in a rather condescending manner, and everyone else is simply a caricature.  Worse yet, they are unnecessary.  We do not need Alex Cross to have a mean-spirited mother, a subplot about whether Alex should break from his wife’s wishes and take a job in Washington, D.C. with the FBI, or the fact that Perry’s other two team members are schtupping and foolishly trying to hide it.  You just cannot cross the Cross, you know?

Then we have John C. McGinley (Office Space, “Scrubs”) and Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad”, Do The Right Thing).  McGinley drew laughter when he first appeared on screen with my audience, turning around to face the camera and then announcing his presence as the hopelessly miscast police chief.  The brilliant Giancarlo Esposito shows up for no good reason, except apparently to plug Cadillacs.  Through only the most tenuous of connections, Cross goes to talk to Esposito’s crimelord and when they go to sit in a car in Esposito’s showroom (INDOORS, mind you!!), the door opens up, with the word “CADILLAC” beautifully reflected on the door’s window for a good 5-10 seconds.  Plus, we also are privy to a shot of someone driving a new Cadillac, from inside the car, from the back seat – but would you look at the beautiful console, how well it handles in tight spaces, and all that spacious leg room?!?  Damn.  Now that’s a car.

Everyone should disassociate from this.  The film lacks one redeemable quality from any of its 101 minutes of running time.  I cannot even fathom what author James Patterson, who serves as an Executive Producer on this film, thought when he saw the final cut.  Perry has done more with less than arguably any other filmmaker or movie star ever.  Now, however, he is not a business man, he is a business…man…and Alex Cross is probably going to reap a healthy reward at the box office, based on the fact that a fair number of people think this is a Tyler Perry Movie.  But this is not a Tyler Perry Movie.  It is worse.  The dirt worst and in no way worthy of your time or money.

SHOULD I SEE IT?
YES
  • I cannot think of one reason to see this movie, because all roads lead to bitter disappointment.  I guess if you like Tyler Perry or James Patterson novels, you will be interested.
NO
  • See above.  The film is one of the worst major studio releases to be released in years.  Edited, directed, and written at the talent level of first-quarter film students, I beg you.  I plead with you to not see this film.  Stop supporting terrible movies.  This movie tanking will not bring Tyler Perry’s success to an end, but it will help.