By Rebecca Fox
So confession time. I’ve never seen Kiss the Girls or Along Came A Spider, nor have I read any of James Pattersons’ Best Selling Alex Cross novels. The good news for you? This doesn’t make any difference in whether it’s a movie you should watch or not.
We start by getting thrown right into the action. We’re introduced to Tyler Perry as pre-FBI agent Dr. Alex Cross, as usual, getting his man. This time with the help of his lifelong friend-now-partner Tommy, played by Edward Burns, and new team mate Monica, played by Rachel Nichols. The banter between the three is light and fun. It never felt forced or inappropriate and it definitely helped balance the darker moments of the movie.
The movie kind of runs like a typical cop show on TV. We meet his loving family, wife Maria played by Carmen Ejogo and Nana Mama, played by a very convincing Cicely Tyson and we see how happy they are. Then he gets a call; there’s a multiple murder and very little clues. It’s clear early on to only Alex Cross that they are dealing with one person, an assassin named Picasso, played by Matthew Fox. It becomes a race against time to save Picasso’s next victims, take him out and figure out who the big dog is that hired Picasso and why. I should note they never call him Picasso, they never call him by name at all, that’s just the name of his character in the credits.
There’s one hugely sad moment and a twist ending that most people won’t see coming. The director paced it wonderfully so it’s not just the action that will have you at the edge of your seat. And the pacing helps it stand out from the cop shows on TV. What really shines through all of it for me was the acting. Well, the majority of it. I was very pleasantly surprised.
I never once thought of Tyler Perry as Madea. He made me experience his grief, laugh at his jokes, and root for him to wipe Picasso off the map and start his career as a criminal profiler (even though I knew he’d be a great criminal profiler based on all those bestsellers). Matthew Fox was truly a brutally cold and calculating psycho, losing weight for the role so he even looked different. And Edward Burns and Rachel Nichols did great in their supporting roles, I found them believable.. (That might not sound like much but I assure you it’s a great compliment!)
One performance that stuck out but not in a really good way was John C. McGinley. His acting reminded me of his character, Dr. Perry Cox, in Scrubs, which was the problem. I want to see different performances if I’m watching the same actor. He still had funny moments though so it’s sort of forgivable. I said sort of.
To sum up before I started rambling, everyone who likes a good thriller should see it. And now if you’ll excuse me I need to go rent two movies and make a stop at the library so I can catch up on what I’ve obviously been missing.
4 out of 5
Second Review by Amara Dumlao
Superstar detective and doctor, Alex Cross, has it all; his family loves and supports him, he works with his lifelong best friend, and he is incredible at his job. But when a murderer comes along with an agenda that Alex can’t quite stay on top of, the perfection that defines his world is suddenly in jeopardy.
Switching between over the top action and heart felt drama; “Alex Cross” changes gears faster than Tyler Perry can change costumes. The dizzying result is an emotional tsunami, assisted by an amped up soundtrack and constant low to the ground shots, which places the audience directly into Alex’s world. From the blatant product placement and the sweeping shots of Detroit, “Alex Cross” also defines the location as a modern Gotham city, glamorous yet ripe with danger.
Sure, Alex has an eye for detail that could rival Nancy Drew. However, unlike the girl detective, Alex is an absurd know-it-all who would be completely unpalatable if not for his partner, Tommy Kane (Edward Burns) who manages to mute the lead’s over-the-top personality down to a dull annoyance. Impossible for the audience to respect as a hero, Cross is preposterous and entitled causing his scenes to play out as unintentionally comedic.
Adding to the comedy, the film contains an audience pleasing guest roll by, John C. McGinley as the decisive chief of police, Richard Brookwell. But the standout performance comes from Matthew Fox as the villain, Picasso. While he is not Hannibal Lector, Picasso is cleverly twisted, brutally savage, and maddeningly mysterious.
Leaving the theater I was amused yet exhausted by the ridiculous twists and turns that define this strangely woven plot of “Alex Cross”. This is a B movie with a Tyler Perry budget, a film so terrible that it circles back to enjoyable, and I am already hoping for an even more absurd sequel.