Review: ALEX CROSS (2012) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Review: ALEX CROSS (2012)


Before I go straight with the review, picture this: Tyler Perry, who made a fortune playing a cross-dressing, gun-toting mama in the lucrative MADEA series, tries to reinvent himself into a different actor. An action star, to be exact. For those who have seen his MADEA series before, some of you might be thinking: seriously? Frankly, an actor who is primarily known in comedy genre can make a smooth transition as an action star. Take Bruce Willis, for instance, who had successfully became an action icon when he did DIE HARD back in 1988 after a short stint in TV's Moonlighting. Unfortunately, Tyler Perry looks uncomfortable playing his first action-oriented role in ALEX CROSS -- a loose prequel to 1997's KISS THE GIRLS and 2001's ALONG CAME A SPIDER (both starred Morgan Freeman). Shame about the movie as well, which is nothing more than a clunky and haphazard thriller.

Long before we get to know the older Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) as a brilliant FBI agent in KISS THE GIRLS and ALONG CAME A SPIDER, we are introduced to a younger version (Tyler Perry), who first working as a Detroit-based police detective. Cross and his team -- partner and best friend Tommy Kane (Edward Burns) and beautiful rookie Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols) -- are called in by police chief Richard Brookwell (John C. McGinley) after a wealthy woman named Fan Yau (Stephanie Jacobsen) and her bodyguards are found brutally massacred in her Detroit mansion. Apparently it was done by a psychotic killer nicknamed Picasso (Matthew Fox), who is actually targeting the city's wealthy elite and slowly made his way up to Leon Mercier (Jean Reno), an oily French business tycoon with plans for reinventing Detroit city. Things goes out of hand when the killer himself starts messing around with Cross, killing one of his teams as well as one of his family members. Devastated, Cross turns the case into a personal vendetta to seek vengeance against Picasso.

Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson's screenplay is strictly by-the-numbers, and everything here plays out like a typical serial-killer thriller you used to watch during the 1990s heyday. Actually, there's nothing wrong being nostalgic here but it's a shame that the story is unimaginative and lackluster. Even veteran action director Rob Cohen (THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, xXx) is out of his element here. The action (which often his forte) is disappointingly shot with shaky-cam and one particular climactic fight set-piece between Cross and Picasso is so incomprehensibly shaky it's impossible to figure out what's really going on.

As mentioned earlier, Tyler Perry is out of depth here. It's actually good to see him venturing out something different, but it turns out the actor's range is more limited than expected. As awkward as he looks playing an action role, he remains comfortably at ease whenever the scenes involve him with his wife and his family. Both Edward Burns and Rachel Nichols are nothing more than showing up in thankless roles, while Jean Reno (looking really old) is just as forgettable. Matthew Fox, who lost a huge amount of weight to look scarily skinny, is suitably cast as a sadistic psychopath. Too bad his character is given little room for development.

ALEX CROSS is actually meant to jump-start a new franchise based on James Patterson's crime novels, but this prequel itself is already a failure. So much for the anticipation.


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