Cast: Alex Cross (Tyler Perry), Picasso (Matthew Fox), Thomas Kane (Edward Burns), Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols), Nana Mama (Cicely Tyson), Mario Cross (Carmen Ejogo), Daramus Holiday (Giancarlo Esposito), Captain Richard Brookwell (John C. McGinley), Giles Mercier (Jean Reno)
Director: Rob Cohen
Theatrical release: 10/19/2012 DVD Date: 02/05/2013
Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 101 minutes
Note(s): The screenplay by Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson is based on the novel Cross by James Patterson.
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Review: Well … the good news is that Tyler Perry isn't nearly as awful as I feared he might be, playing a character first portrayed by Morgan Freeman in two films from 1997 and 2001. Perry isn't very good, mind you, but it's not an altogether bad performance. Rather surprisingly, Matthew Fox isn't all that memorable either, even though he plays a somewhat larger-than-life character.
Set in Detroit, a socialite (and, we later learn, an executive with some sort of financial company) is drugged, her fingers cut off, and murdered. Cross (Tyler Perry) is brought in to investigate, figures out — from a charcoal drawing left at the scene — that the next target will be another executive with the same company. He manages to prevent that murder from taking place, infuriating the killer — we know him as Picasso (Matthew Fox) — who decides to take out his frustration on Cross by killing his pregnant wife. Cross, now out for revenge, realizes his best opportunity to take out Picasso is by keeping one step ahead of him, reasoning that his next target will be the company's CEO (Jean Reno).
Alex Cross has a good look to it, and the direction keeps the film moving along at a brisk pace. A possible underlying reason for this: the screenplay is a mess. The director clearly hopes that by not dwelling too long on any one scene that viewers won't realize how utterly improbable some of the plot points are.
Setting the screenplay — which is loosely adapted from one of Patterson's novels featuring Alex Cross — aside, the film is also hampered by an incredibly weak supporting cast. Other than Perry and Fox, not a single actor brings any depth to their respective characters. For the most part, they tend to blend into the background; you barely realize they're there. This is particularly disappointing for the terrific actress Cicely Tyson playing Nana Mama, who is such a memorable character in the books but has little more than a walk-on part here.
Maybe it's because I had such low expectations going in that I'm rating this movie as high as I am … which, to be fair, isn't all that high. If you haven't seen the previous movies with Morgan Freeman as Alex Cross, you won't know how good this character can be. (To be sure, he had better screenplays to work with as well.) And if you have seen these movies, you'll need to completely set those performances aside to enjoy this film. Though it could have been so much better had the screenwriters written a better script, this is a watchable action thriller … with the barest hint of a credible whodunit thrown in for good measure.