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Movie Review
Alex Cross
Rating :
Hero :
Tyler Perry
Heroine :
Other Cast :
Matthew Fox Edward Burns Rachel Nichols Cicely Tyson Jean Reno
Director :
Rob Cohen
Music Director :
John Debney
Producer :
Bill Block, Paul Hanson, James Patterson ,Steve Bowen ,Randal Emmett ,Leopoldo Gout
Release Date :
The saving grace of the serial-killer picture Kiss the Girls and the kidnapping thriller Along Came a Spider was the measured, judicious, surpassingly sensitive Morgan Freeman as James Patterson’s detective and psychologist Alex Cross. Freeman was too good for the material, and he knew it, but at least you could focus on his watchful mien and the cracked melody of his voice instead of the third-rate plotting and casual sadism. Old Freeman has moved on, and there’s now a “reboot,” called, simply, Alex Cross. Big, beefy mini-mogul Tyler Perry has climbed out of his panty hose and got some high-priced training in how to look convincing shooting a gun and beating up bad guys. Playing things straight, he’s a dull actor, indeed, with dead eyes and strange-looking pool-ball lumps in each cheek. But the movie will be a hit. It works you over as single-mindedly as its villain works over assorted young women.

Replacing Morgan Freeman, whose stately schtick graced previous Patterson procedurals Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls, is Tyler Perry, at last free of the fat suit. Much will be said of Madea's transformation into a shotgun-toting badass, and for what it's worth, Perry’s charisma largely carries him through, save for a few expressions of rage that look jarringly like the exertions of constipated defecation. But more notable is that director Rob Cohen has situated Perry's dramatic coming-out party within the insta-camp milieu of 1980s chop-socky quickies, the kind that starred Segal and Van Damme.

Cohen exploits Detroit's decay (or the idea of it, anyway—the film was largely shot in Cleveland) exactly as you'd expect, staging implausible pursuits through urban catacombs and hollowed-out theaters, while positing whinnying Long Islander Edward Burns as a Motor City native and childhood friend to Perry.

Now a master of the smugly inept line reading, Burns is the key to appreciating Alex Cross as an unintentional but thoroughgoing parody of itself. From Cross's unchecked nobility and clairvoyance (he's a church-going Sherlock Holmes who argues for a switch to the FBI because it comes with "great dental") to the ludicrous idea that Detroit is suffering at the hands of billionaire Europeans (like the bloated Jean Reno, suddenly a poor man's Powers Boothe), and from spit-take blatant plugs for the likes of Cadillac and OnStar to a tacked-on finale that briskly explains away a landfill's worth of narrative nonsense via Skype, there’s not a moment in Alex Cross that doesn’t function splendidly as comedy. Which means that for all his cool-cat preening and heroic soul-searching, Tyler Perry must have felt right at home.

The actor most invested in the film is Fox, whose truly scary Picasso deserves a sharper pursuer and a smarter script. Fox’s drastic weight loss, neck-cracking ferocity and wild-eyed aspect suggests he was channeling significantly darker thoughts than anyone else on the set.

Perhaps he had a vision of the critical verdict on Alex Cross?
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