Starring: Tyler Perry and Matthew Fox
Tyler Perry as Alex Cross has got to be one the most baffling casting decisions of recent years. That’s not to say Perry doesn’t have any dramatic range or that he should be forever limited to playing a mad, black woman. While he may not be a great actor, Perry has exemplified that he is an immensely charismatic performer with a lot of potential. But you would never know that based on “Alex Cross,” a run-of-the-mill, instantly forgettable crime thriller. If Perry really wanted to broaden his acting range, he probably should have chosen a less conventional script better equipped to his charms.
Morgan Freeman previously portrayed the character of Alex Cross in “Kiss the Girls” and “Along Came a Spider.” This new film by Rob Cohen is apparently a reboot for Alex Cross, who has been the center of several novels by James Patterson. Here, the homicide detective/psychologist is pitted up against a serial killer known as Picasso, who leaves cubism drawings at the scenes of his murders. Having lost a noticeable amount of body fat, Matthew Fox from “Lost” plays the puzzling Picasso killer. A cat and mouse picture such as this really all depends on how interesting the hero and his foe are. I’ve already discussed how Perry is miscast as the bland, dreary Alex Cross. Unfortunately, Fox isn’t much more engaging as the one-note Picasso.
Fox is obviously having a lot of fun in this role, trying to make the most out of a lazily written part. It’s a futile effort though, chiefly because there’s nothing to the Picasso killer. The audience doesn’t learn much about where he came from, what makes him tick, or how he interacts with other people. Sometimes it works when a villain is given no explanation and remains a mystery throughout the entire film. But Picasso isn’t nearly chilling, complex or menacing enough to get away with that. He’s essentially a blank slate with zero lasting appeal.
The impressive supporting cast includes character actors like Giancarlo Esposito, Rachel Nichols, Jean Reno and John C. McGinley. But they’re all sadly forgettable and, in a majority of cases, serve little purpose to the story. Edward Burns is especially wasted as Alex’s best friend and partner, who does not even care when somebody he supposedly loves dies a horrible death. Then there’s Cicely Tyson as Alex’s pushy mother, a completely expendable character that seems better suited for one of Perry’s Madea comedies.
The actors really aren’t the major problem with “Alex Cross” though. The film’s downfall all lies in the flat dynamic between Cross and Picasso. This makes it especially hard to care about the outcome when the two finally face off in the rushed anticlimax. “Alex Cross” may not be one of the most horrendous movies of the year. But never for a second does the film feel cinematic. It’s more like one of those formulaic cop shows stretched out to an hour and 40 minutes. In short, you’d be better off saving your money and getting caught up on your favorite network dramas this weekend.
Ahwatukee native and Desert Vista graduate Nick Spake is a student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.