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Overall Rating
1.82

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 9.09%
Average: 18.18%
Pretty Bad: 18.18%
Total Crap54.55%

1 review, 5 user ratings


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Alex Cross
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad With Others As Well."
1 stars

When it was announced that cinematic one-man-band Tyler Perry would be temporarily hanging up his Madea drag in order to take on the role of Alex Cross, the police investigator/forensic psychologist at the center of a series of best-selling novels by James Patterson, in an attempt to reboot the film franchise that saw Morgan Freeman essaying the part in a pair of middling thrillers that you have already forgotten about ("Kiss the Girls" and "Along Came a Spider"), it struck many observers as an exceptionally bizarre notion. Oh sure, there has always been a tradition of people who have achieved considerable success in one particular entertainment niche to try branching out into another and remember, they all laughed when light comic actor Bruce Willis was hired to appear in an action epic called "Die Hard." However, the notion of Perry trying to stretch his wings in such a manner seemed so flabbergasting on the surface that one has to assume that he was given the nod not because of the qualities he could bring to the part as much as the fact that he is one of the few African-American actors of his age group working today who has been a consistent draw at the box-office in recent years.

To cut to the chase, Perry is woefully and painfully miscast as Alex Cross and is never for a single moment convincing as either a brilliantly intuitive cop or as a two-fisted action hero. In fact, I daresay that you could go down to the DMV in Moline on a typical Thursday afternoon and come up with at least a half-dozen more suitable candidates for the gig. And yet, his presence hardly matters because the rest of the film is excruciatingly and inexplicably awful in pretty much every regard that even if his presence had been pinpoint casting at its finest, it would have mattered hardly a whit because the rest of the film still would have sucked. This is a film that flies off the rails so often and so thoroughly that is dumbfounding that it could have been perpetrated by actual professionals. In fact, the only difference between it and a "SNL" sketch spoofing serial killer thrillers is that this one has more laughs, albeit entirely of the inadvertent variety.

After the requisite action-packed, however loosely, opening in which Cross brings down a serial rapist in the sewers of Detroit (any comparisons between it and "The Third Man" are both coincidental and potentially libelous), the plot proper lurches into neutral as a weirdo (Matthew Fox) buys his way into an underground mixed-martial arts cage fight where he triumphs handily over the champion brawler, picks up a fight groupie and goes back to her lavish digs for what she thinks will be sex but what turns out to be an extended torture session featuring paralyzing injections, finger snippings and the like before slaughtering her bodyguards and disappearing. To most people, this would seem to be just another Tuesday night in Detroit but not to Cross, who is not only able to deduce exactly how the killer, dubbed Picasso for his penchant for leaving simple but clue-filled charcoal renderings of his crimes, went about his activities in minute detail but is also able to suss out that the guy is targeting filthy rich people, including a wealthy French industrialist (Jean Reno) with a plan to revitalize Detroit. Yes, killing off rich people seems kind of clinical and antiseptic but have no fear, Picasso soon makes it personal and Cross goes on a one-man rampage to get revenge and, if he can fit it in, prevent Picasso from taking any other lives along the way.

In other words, "Alex Cross" is yet another game of cat-and-mouse between a brilliant investigator who nevertheless makes the most idiotic moves whenever the plot requires him to do so and a criminal mastermind who might have gotten away with everything if he had only simplified things on his end a little bit. However, what seems to start off as just another crappy cop film quickly devolves into such a mess that it appears to have been made by and for people who have never actually seen such a thing before. The story makes absolutely no sense whatsoever--Cross' deductive skills are never plausible for a minute, Picasso's methods of stalking and dispatching his prey would beggar belief in a lesser Inspector Clouseau film and the wrap-up, one of those deals where the killer hangs themselves by talking in detail about their crimes when all they need to do is not say anything, is almost enough to drive a stake through the heart of that particular cliche once and for all. From what I gather, the screenplay by bears little resemblance to any of James Patterson's novels so I guess he cannot be blamed entirely for what has been wrought in his name.

As dumb and derivative as the plot-heavy scenes are, they are out done by the breathtakingly moronic bits strewn throughout that are apparently meant to give the cliches character and vice versa. Early on, we get to see Cross play a late-night game of chess with a dumb kid locked up for a crime he didn't commit so that we can understand how much he really cares. There are scenes involving the clandestine romance between Cross's two colleagues (Edward Burns and Rachel Nichols) that have been shoehorned into the proceedings for reasons that still elude me. The most ridiculous by far is the stuff about Cross contemplating moving to Washington D.C. to work for the FBI while his pregnant wife (Carmen Ejogo) implores him to stay in Detroit by talking at length about the friendly neighborhoods, thriving industry and top-notch public schools that are the first thing that come to mind when most people think of the motor city. (These scenes, by the way, have a punchline so hilariously awful that it almost feel as if the film was financed by the Wisconsin Board of Tourism.)

The film was directed by Rob Cohen, a man whose previous films have wavered between the endearingly goofy ("The Fast and the Furious." "XXX"), the astonishingly stupid ("Stealth, "The Skulls") and the I-never-finished-watching-it-because-I-don't-do-movies-with-talking-dragons ("Dragonheart") but which have never plummeted to the artistic depths that he sinks to this time around. His attempts at generating suspense and tension are so shockingly amateurish that you would think they had been perpetrated by a first-timer with no potential future in the business to speak of and his efforts at staging the action beats are even worse. One in particular, the climactic fight between Cross and Picasso in the rafters of a crumbling old theater, is such an eye-popping example of bad filmmaking--poor choreography, unconvincing performers and too much jittery camerawork and editing deployed as a last-ditch effort to disguise the other faults--that it could be shown in cinema classes across the country as a textbook example of how not to put together such a scene. This isn't just bad filmmaking--this is outright incompetence on such a scale that it blows the mind that Cohen actually had the nerve to sign his name to it and that Summit actually paid him for services allegedly rendered.

To be honest, I can't say that I walked into the screening of "Alex Cross" expecting much of anything--if the potential franchise couldn't make a go of it with the likes of Morgan Freeman, what chance did it have in the hands of Rob Cohen and Tyler Perry? And yet, I never in my most fervent nightmares dreamed that the results could possibly be as dismal as what has been perpetrated here. Technically incompetent, horribly acted (the closest thing to something resembling a performance comes from Matthew Fox, who goes through the entire film clearly trying to emulate Malkovich--granted, it is John's lesser-known cousin Shemp Malkovich, but still. . .) and so savagely violent that the fact that the MPAA was content to give it a PG-13 rating frankly boggles the mind, this is a film that will no doubt outrage Patterson's fan base and flat-out horrify Perry's legions of fans in equal measure. After watching the film, I learned that "Alex Cross" had a troubled production history that saw its original director and star leave the proceedings and lawsuits amongst various producers. That a movie as messy as this could arise from such chaos is not much of a mystery. The fact that everyone involved continued to soldier on with its making long after the point when it must have been painfully obvious that it just wasn't working, on the other hand, is a mystery that would stump even Alex Cross himself. This is a film that starts off in a sewer and never comes close to making it topside.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=23478&reviewer=389
originally posted: 10/19/12 09:57:07
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User Comments

2/28/14 Monday Morning Cicely Tyson? Great! Where's Danny Glover, Sidney Poitier, Yaphet Khotto, etc? Ha ha! 2 stars
3/03/13 mr.mike I thought it was a decent home video watch. 4 stars
3/03/13 action movie fan good thriller no dirty harry but better than most critics say it is 3 stars
12/17/12 The Big D Starts out slow, builds to an exciting finish, and wimps out at the very end. 3 stars
10/21/12 Jeff Wilder Perrt is pretty good. But the overall movie doesn't work. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  19-Oct-2012 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Feb-2013

UK
  N/A

Australia
  19-Oct-2012
  DVD: 05-Feb-2013




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