Alex Cross has all the elements of a decent cop action thriller: maverick detective Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) goes up against nut-job serial killer named Picasso (played by a seriously juiced-up Matthew Fox ). Not at all generic. Conflict is introduced: a whole bunch of people have died and it’s up to Cross to find out who the assassin is. Then things get personal: Cross’ wife and his partner’s girlfriend are murdered. A predictable revenge plot ensues.
It’s a formula. We’ve seen it countless times by now; even the psychopathic murderer is a cliché, and it made Alex Cross as relentlessly dull and as non-descript as they come. There was nothing unique or iconic about it. And who better to direct it than master of hackery, Rob Cohen (xXx, Stealth, The Mummy 3)?
Everything was a little over-laboured. The pace was too slow at times, gaps between dialogues were too long, and the script was surprisingly stilted and unnatural, filled with cheesy, cringe-worthy one-liners. Furthermore, it plays hard on the trope in recent action flicks like this to have two or three really good friends who share hilarious, chummy banter, all of which was present and none of which was hilarious. The chemistry between the cops felt forced, partly because of the dialogue and partly because it was another unnecessary addendum to the formula.
Alex Cross‘ saving grace and only highlight is Matthew Fox in his role as the crazed serial killer. The amount of weight he lost for the role is impressive; a psychotic look that aids him in embodying the persona of a madman. Plus, his crazy eyes will keep you entertained if nothing else. Although his antics aren’t without their surreal moments, such as a hilarious shot of the menacing Picasso swimming up a pipe a fully equipped with snorkel and goggles.
Sadly, Tyler Perry’s acting was rather lacklustre and wooden; I never felt any real emotion coming from him. His reaction to seeing his wife shot was underplayed, and his anger towards Picasso was like seeing a child have a tantrum: all facial contortions and not a lot else. It seems like Perry, much like Alex Cross, was just going through the motions. Not the most convincing lead performance from a man who has spearheaded over 30 films to date.
I hope that James Patterson’s novel is more developed and believable than its adaptation. Considering Cross has already been portrayed on screen by Morgan Freeman twice before, it seems criminal to leave the character’s younger incarnation in such feeble hands. As it stands, Alex Cross buys into the market of the generic action film lovers: creating movies filled with men throwing punches at each other, misogynistically defending or avenging their damsel-in-distress female partners, with a bit of sex thrown in for good measure. It’s a shame, since the premise of Alex Cross had potential. All of the elements were there; they were just impossible to invest in. Essentially, it was unmemorable, cheesy and cliché.