In life, there are phrases that you just dread ever hearing. For example: “You’re fired.” “You have cancer.” Even, “This relationship isn’t working out,” or, “I’m pregnant.”
With regards to Alex Cross, the following words uttered by the titular (no pun) star Tyler Perry, “It’s not over yet,” are by far the most frightening, and by default, engaging, aspect of this uninspired 101 minute telling.
As those four words penetrate your already deflated mind, you just feel punished. The flick based off the popular action/crime novel by James Patterson (wrote Along Came a Spider), is an insult to the heralded author. Sloppy filmmaking mechanics (the cinematographer should never work in Hollywood again) compounded by rigid and clichéd acting by the majority of the cast, just kills the essence of Patterson’s suspenseful and compelling writing.
Detective Dr. Alex Cross (an ironically clueless Perry) is a crime-solving guru who has seemingly met his match (but the screenplay fails to ever truly sell this notion). A highly-trained assassin, that is given the name Picasso (Matthew Fox making this tolerable), is tactfully taking out high-end corporate suits in Detroit, Michigan. Cross, and his childhood friend & partner, Tommy Kane (Edward Burns) are attempting to match wits with the elusive and focused killer. Once Picasso learns that Cross and his team, which also includes a young upstart in Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols), are out to thwart his plan, things get personal; as Picasso takes time to not only complete his agenda, but tries to make life hell for Cross and his companions.
Matthew Fox (the only who seems to care about his role) is the sole reason to put oneself through this hacked up delivery. The cunning and ruthless persona Fox enacts here is the only competent element of this script. Everything else: pure generic garbage.
That feeling of, “Oh, know, this could be as bad as having a colon-cleansing,” hits within the first 10 minutes. The opening represents a microcosm of everything that is flawed throughout this numbing time-checker. Poor editing, acting – especially Edward Burns clichéd hamming – and a loose story will make one wish that Fox’s character was actually in the theater to put you out of this misery.
For those that have never read James Patterson, saying the author is detailed and preaches continuity is an understatement. The filmmakers here do the exact opposite and it leaves you with a ton of questions, or more specifically – a perplexed look – on why & how certain character actions are occurring. That is, if you still give a rat’s ass after the singular emotional moment halfway through. And once this said emotional action unfolds, you actually get the feeling the levels are about to be amp’d up to perhaps salvage a sluggish first half. Well, negative ghost rider.
Overall, this adaptation just plain sucks to the point that pay-cable stations such as HBO, Showtime, and even FX for that matter, may not ever air this elementary product when it tumbles out of theaters in a month. And no one buys the DVD with the “how we made this terrible” bonus features.
Alex Cross is rated PG-13 and opens in the Tampa Bay market on Friday.