Susan Granger’s review of “Alex Cross” (Summit Entertainment)
In the screen adaptations of James Patterson’s “Kiss the Girls” (1997) and “Along Came a Spider” (2001), Morgan Freeman played forensic psychologist-turned-detective Alex Cross – and he was quite believable. Now, that role has been mistakenly turned over to Tyler Perry, best known for writing, directing and starring in the cross-dressing “Madea” franchise. Unfortunately, multi-talented Perry lacks the requisite gravitas that Freeman brought to the role.
Set in Detroit, trench coat clad Alex Cross (Perry) is on the trail of a savage, sadistic psychopath known as Picasso (Matthew Fox) because of the weird, cubistic charcoal sketches that he leaves at the scene of his tortured murder victims, who are culled from the city’s ultra-rich, upper classes. But soon the homicidal peril becomes personal, as the executioner targets Cross’s friends and family. According to his longtime friend/partner, Thomas Kane (Edward Burns), Cross is so brilliant that he should have no problem putting these surrealist clues together. But, as portrayed by Perry, that’s difficult to believe.
That focuses attention on the bare-headed, tattooed villain, which Matthew Fox (TV’s “Lost”) plays with a visceral intensity. A bare-knuckle boxer, this creepy serial killer is also known as “the Butcher of Sligo,” and it’s inferred that he has a congenital insensitivity to pain. (That device was also an integral characteristic of an antagonist pursuing Lisbeth Salander in Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl Who Played With Fire.”)
Based on James Patterson’s novel “Cross,” it’s ineptly and illogically scripted by Marc Moss, Rob Cohen and Kerry Williamson and awkwardly directed by Rob Cohen (“The Fast and the Furious”). Filled with sexualized violence against women and grimly gruesome action sequences that are inexplicably rated PG-13, it is punctuated by sappy glimpses of Alex Cross’ life at home with his pregnant wife Maria (Carmen Ejogo) and overbearing “Nana Mama” (Cicely Tyson).
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Alex Cross” is a floundering 4, perhaps best remembered as Tyler Perry’s first lead role in a film that he didn’t write, direct or produce.