Alex Cross was full of cinema firsts. It’s the first book in James Patterson’s Cross series to be portrayed by a film in the over 10 years. Morgan Freeman played the lead role in the movie rendition of the very first book, Kiss the Girls, in 1997, Matthew Fox plays a different kind of character than we’ve ever seen him as, and Tyler Perry isn’t dressed as a woman or starring in his own movie. Even with all of these new elements, Alex Cross wasn’t an amazing adventure. However, the use of intense and interesting characters paired with action and a story that never really leaves you in a lull created something worth seeing.
The movie kicks off with an on-foot police chase involving Alex Cross (Tyler Perry), his partners, Monica (Rachel Nichols) and Tommy (Edward Burns), and a suspect. The conclusion of the chase has no direct link to the major events that follow in the movie, but it sets up the opening for dialogue, getting to know the detectives, and, in the following scene, Cross’s family. We learn that his wife has found out that she’s pregnant, and Alex has been offered a position in the FBI. These somewhat seemingly small details come into play later on when the plot thickens.
Shortly after becoming acquainted with Cross, the villain he dubs “Picasso” (Matthew Fox) is introduced. He enters an underground MMA fighting ring, drops a hefty bet on himself, and goes to town beating his opponent to a pulp with the purpose being to snag the attention of a wealthy, young woman, who is just the beginning of his grand scheme. Fox really got into this role. When he was first approached about it, he wasn’t thrilled and couldn’t see himself as this person, but after developing a psyche for the character, losing 40 pounds and enlisting the help of a trainer and nutritionist, he couldn’t say no.
Personally, projects that Fox has starred in that stand out are Jack Shephard in Lost and Bill Security Super in Smokin’ Aces, yet others will probably think of We Are Marshall, Vantage Point or Speed Racer. Regardless of the previous roles you’ve seen him as, nothing even comes close to what he does in this film. Obviously he’s jacked and being bald really gives that “killer” look, but what also stands out is the edgy tone he uses in the dialogue, along with the insane pleasure you can feel him put into every action and word. It really does look and feel like Fox has become a serial killer. Sure, it’s the type of person that he has never played before, but he did an amazing job pulling it off. The only problem I have here doesn’t even have to do with Fox or the character, but more so that director Rob Cohen didn’t include enough background about him or even a clear motive. I would’ve liked to see a little more insight on “Picasso,” but maybe it was supposed to be like that to keep us thinking.
The dealbreaker that might turn many people off from seeing this is Tyler Perry. When I first saw the trailer, I thought it was a joke he was in it, because, frankly, he’s not in many movies aside from his own. The more I watched the trailer, the more I became interested to see how he would do and how the story would go. I read reviews saying Perry ruins the movie, his burly stature is too awkward for a detective and his acting is subpar. I really didn’t feel the same way. I thought that his tall, husky stature played into the action perfectly, because Fox’s character is so lean and muscular that it makes the fighting more fun to watch with the two having opposite builds and styles. On his acting, the only time I felt that he really didn’t connect with his character was following a particular death. He should have been grieving and crying, but instead his tone just got deeper and he stayed rather serious, shedding a single tear.
In the aftermath, I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys straight-up action movies with a sustainable plot where the ending isn’t really a twist, but you can’t necessarily see it coming. There is plenty of action throughout, mixed with intervals of story progression and character development. What separates this movie from being a blowout blockbuster film is that you don’t learn everything you want to know about the characters. Their objectives are put in the spotlight with no shine on what they’re actually thinking or feeling. Six out of ten.