Dir. Rob Cohen
Starring: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Giancarlo Esposito
It’s quite surprising that a character like James Patterson’s Alex Cross hasn’t been used more often in film. With a plethora of content from the numerous novels based on the character, you would think we would have seen more of him other than 1997′s ‘Kiss The Girls’ and 2001′s ‘Along Came a Spider’. While both films were for the most part, critical failures, Summit decided to jump on the reboot bandwagon and replace former Alex Cross, Morgan Freeman with Tyler Perry in Rob Cohen’s “Alex Cross”. A fresh, younger take on the titular character.
As mentioned, the film stars Tyler Perry as Alex Cross, a smart, tough-as-nails detective from Detroit, Michigan. After a series of murders and a run in with the assassin known as Picasso (Matthew Fox), the killing takes a personal turn and Cross is left to take the law into his own hands. With the help of his partner and best friend Tommy Kane (Edward Burns) Cross must hunt down Picasso and get the revenge he so desperately seeks.
Although Perry and Fox give their best efforts, they can’t save absolutely baffling plotting and a laughably bad script.
Hit the jump for my complete review of Rob Cohen’s ‘Alex Cross’.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
The main problem with Alex Cross is it’s insanely baffling and idiotic screenplay. At no moment in the film do you believe anything that is happening is how real people act and that these events could transpire in the ways they play out. The dialogue is horrible and cliché. Random attempts at humour are thrown in randomly and awkwardly without generating any emotion from the audience. The ways characters act throughout the film make absolutely no sense and are completely sporadic. The film wants you to believe that Detective Cross and Picasso are two brilliant men playing a deadly game of cat and mouse but the decisions they make are moronic and aren’t things that the supposedly brilliant characters would do.
Characters and moments are placed throughout the film for the sole purpose to make Cross seem brilliant, such as the girl he visits in jail at the beginning and the beautiful, supposedly coked out assistant to Leon Mercier. These characters are inserted randomly only to serve Cross in a ridiculous manor towards the end of the film. They are used in twists that try and trick you into thinking they are smart, but are essentially lazy techniques that do not seem earned. Even the wonderful Rachel Nichols has a completely useless role that seems like it might be significant near the beginning, but comes to an abrupt end that serves almost no purpose to the story. There is no point to her even being in the film.
The characters of Cross and Picasso are supposedly brilliant men. Near the beginning of the film, they show Cross guessing what his wife did that entire morning, right down to the most minuscule details. He goes on to perfectly lay out what happened at Picasso’s first crime scene. Picasso, on the other hand is a brilliant killer, with Cross even mentioning to the police captain that Picasso is always a step ahead of them, thinking of every possible outcome and always outsmarting his prey. The problem with making the audience believe these traits are the idiotic choices the two leads make throughout the film. Cross, somehow manages to let Picasso hurt some of the people he loves, even though there is plenty of warning after Cross stops one of his assassination attempts. Sure, the film acknowledges that Cross knows he made a mistake, which is unusual for him, but it’s so obvious that any police officer would have their family and friends under protective custody during the search for this killer, it’s kind of ridiculous that he is out in public with members of his family. Cross also ends up bribing a violent gangster with a stolen piece of evidence at one point in the film, ultimately letting the gangster go free just for helping him with a detail he could have probably figured out in a legal way.
As for Picasso, there are decisions he makes in the film that make you shake your head. He is a paid assassin, yet he leaves a ridiculous clue in a photograph clearly showing who his next target would be. It’s lazy script writing to help our protagonists move the plot along. I understand he is a psychopath, but it just doesn’t make any sense. What is the point? It’s his first killing, he has no personal vendetta or plan to play a game with the police force at this time. Also, for a man who meticulously plans out his killings, he makes some pretty obvious and dumb mistakes when using his (oddly product-placed) cadillac. I’m sorry, but I don’t think a trained assassin would park their car right in front of a drug dealers apartment, with his license plate clearly in view of the outside security camera.
The film wants you to believe both men are brilliant, but it forces them to do idiotic things to do this. It’s baffling.
There are other moments in the screenplay that are lazy and make zero sense, from everything to a cheap pregnancy to a character proclaiming that “this entire floor is his office” even though it’s clearly not. These are all fairly small things, but when they consistently happen and you notice them all, it hurts the film immensely and makes it impossible to watch.
Rob Cohen’s direction is pretty much what you would expect from the man that brought you ‘The Mummy 3′ and ‘xXx’. The action is absolutely nauseating, to the point of having to turn away during the last fight scene. Having a PG-13 rating also hurts the film, especially when trying to portray the extremely graphic events that Picasso performs, as Cohen has to turn to this odd effect that doesn’t show what is happening, but layers a few blurry images on top of each other, that is intercut to emotions of faces. It’s distracting and not put to good use.
The film also seems like a bizarre, messed-up advertisement for General Motors. There are countless product placement shots of Picasso’s Cadillac XTS, Kane’s Chevrolet Camaro as well as a shot of the GM headquarters and the use of OnStar to help track the killer. It seems like an odd way of showcasing their product, as I’m not sure how many people want to drive the same car as a madman who cuts off women’s fingers for pleasure. Product placement is fine but when it’s noticeable and mis-used such as in Alex Cross, it’s distracting.
All of this is actually a shame, because you can tell the leads tried their hardest in their roles. Perry is okay as Cross and he does a fine job with what he is given. The problems are within the script and not his performance. Matthew Fox on the other hand, in my opinion, is the one main positive in the film. He really seems to give it his all in the role and does a pretty good job. He completely transforms himself into the completely ripped killer Picasso. He delivers his dialogue like a complete maniac, albeit it terribly written. It seems like he was having a blast playing the sadistic villain of the film and I just wish the final product was as good as he was trying. There is also a nice cameo from Giancarlo Esposito, but the role is so small and meaningless that it left me wishing he had something more to do.
If you can look past the absolutely pathetic screenplay, the film isn’t boring or unwatchable. It does enough to keep your eyes on the screen, even though you might be shaking your head or laughing at what happens. The film is border-lining on “it’s so bad, it’s great” territory but doesn’t quite get there.
Matthew Fox’s performance as a the sadistic killer Picasso isn’t enough to salvage Alex Cross from it’s terrible plotting and screenplay. The characters who are supposed to be brilliant, make idiotic decisions much like audiences who choose to go see this film. Hopefully this is the last time we have to cross Alex Cross. (Yeah, I went there).
Final Rating: 1.5/5