Be careful what you wish for, Detroit-ers.
Yes, most of us were extremely excited when Michigan brought film incentives to our state a few years back. We were looking forward to Hollywood productions rolling into town and we saw this possible influx of work as something positive – not only for workers in Detroit, but as an opportunity to highlight Detroit to the rest of the country and world.
But with Alex Cross, we should have never let the filmmakers close to our city. Beyond it being a horribly acted and directed, cliche-ridden disaster, Alex Cross goes one step further by insulting Detroit-ers with the city’s portrayal in the film. If you read other reviews of this film – overwhelmingly negative ones, I’d imagine – it may be lost on those not from the Detroit area why this film will make local resident’s skin crawl.
Before we get into all that, let me do my due diligence and briefly describe what we have here. Alex Cross the character is a fictional detective made popular in a series of books by author James Patterson. The character has appeared on film before, as portrayed by Morgan Freeman in Kiss The Girls and Along Came A Spider. This new film, Alex Cross, is supposedly based on Patterson’s book “Cross,” and features comedy guru Tyler Perry in the title role. Yes, the actor/writer/producer most known as cross-dressing for the role of Madea is trying his hand at dramatic acting with Alex Cross.
In the film, Cross and his partner (played by Edward Burns) hunt down a psychopathic killer called The Butcher (played by an anorexic-looking Matthew Fox, best known from TV’s Party of Five and Lost). Unintended hilarity ensues.
It is safe to say that Tyler Perry’s foray into dramatic acting is an epic fail, yet he manages to give the most solid performance in the film. That’s like rewarding a kid for scoring a 33% on his math test, because all of the other kids scored a 20%, but still. His character is a super-detective, who can look at somebody and figure out what they had for breakfast. This is a very convenient trait to possess, especially in a film where not much is explained. We need Cross to summarize things from time to time.
Now back to Detroit. The film is set in our city without a care to authenticity. The film is laced with references to real Detroit streets and landmarks, as that should be enough. In one scene, a mom fears moving out of state because – gasp! – that would mean pulling her kid from the comfort of Detroit Public Schools. Not to knock on DPS, but this simply isn’t a real conversation people would have. Also, does anybody notice that Alex Cross and his family seem to be the only African-Americans in the entire film? How about the bustling city streets as depicted in the film? Does any Detroit-er refer to the “people-mover” as “the train,” as these characters do over and over? And hey Edward Burns, where did you get that thick NY accent if your character apparently was born and raised in our city?
The carelessness in which this film was put together is shocking. Director Rob Cohen should be ashamed of himself. As I looked back on his filmography and saw that it included the 1996 dud, DragonHeart, it all made sense. I remember watching that film in anticipation as a teenager, and then thinking it was one of the worst films I had ever seen. Mostly due in part to the CG dragon that seemed to change sizes in nearly every scene. It’s simple really, to have the attention to detail to make sure that a dragon appears to be the same size in each shot. Rob Cohen makes Ed Wood look like Rain Man.
But I guess when you take the director of films like Fast & Furious and put him together with the guy who plays Madea and has built an empire based on unintelligent, low-brow schlock, you shouldn’t expect much in the way of attention to detail.
These moments – when shown at a Detroit screening – had people howling in laughter at the inaccuracies. But there is enough bad material to get you through even without the Detroit references. How about when the bad guy tells Cross, “I….made….you….” toward the end of the film. Say what now? Never mind that it has no bearing on the story or the killer’s relationship with Cross. Rather, it just seems like something a bad guy should say during an action film’s climax.
Alex Cross is full of these conveniences, where all of the characters do and say exactly what you would expect them to in a movie like this. It’s among the worst films and screenplays of this or any other year. Characters die and then are forgotten.
If only this film have been so kind.
Genre: Action, Crime
Run Time: 1 hour 41 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Rachel Nichols, Jean Reno, Giancarlo Esposito
Directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast & The Furious, xXx, DragonHeart)
Opens locally on Friday, October 19th, 2012 (check for show times).
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