Seeing Tyler Perry in a mostly-dramatic role in David Fincher’s Gone Girl last week prompted a visit to 2012’s Alex Cross, the most recent big screen incarnation of James Patterson’s famous detective previously played by Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Appearances to the contrary, Alex Cross ended up being more of a comedy than a drama after all.
Perry’s brilliant Detective Cross faces off against Matthew Fox’s bonkers serial killer known as “Picasso” after the former foils the latter’s assassination attempt and the latter retaliates by killing the former’s wife. The latter realizes his nemesis is The Guy From Madea and uses the opportunity to hone his stand-up routine by exchanging some truly side-splitting dialogue. The game of cat and mouse comes more to resemble a game of mouse and cheese, and the former and the latter eventually decide to duke it out in an abandoned building because cliché. Edward Burns is also in this movie, as is Jean Reno.
Are you excited yet? Well just wait until you witness that final fight scene, whoo boy. Keep in mind that we see Picasso manhandle an impossibly jacked MMA fighter with ease early on in the film and beat the ever-lovin’ out of pretty much everyone else along the way, only to lose in a half-assed scuffle with Madea when his fighting skills actually matter. And you know that cliché moment in 95% of movie fight scenes where the hero seems beaten and is bent over, breathing heavily as blood drips dramatically onto the floor, only to suddenly surge up again with a wicked punch that knocks the bad guy out and gets the music going again? There’s a moment like that, but it isn’t a punch. It’s a kick. It’s in slow motion. The buildup and everything is there and the dude kicks his freaking nemesis in the groin in slow motion. Make sure you’re not drinking Cristal when you watch this scene because you will spit it out laughing and that would be such a waste.
I suppose expectations shouldn’t have been for anything but a cliché-riddled by-the-numbers cop movie from director Rob Cohen (helmer of the cinematic masterpieces xXx and Stealth, among others) based on a book James Freaking Patterson. The writing is fantastically deplorable, and the acting doesn’t do much to elevate it out of the gutter. Matthew Fox at least looks the part, disgustingly sinewy and devoid of all body fat, but he’s also one with a penchant for overacting. His Picasso is like Jim Carrey’s Riddler without the charm of Jim Carrey or The Riddler.
Tyler Perry can act, sure, but certainly not here. There’s a scene where he sits to console his daughter after the death of his wife. He hardly looks concerned at all, despite the tears of pain flowing down his young daughter’s face, and he launches into placid dialogue about when he was her age, his father died, too, so he knows where she’s coming from, you see, and so, yeah, everything’s going to be fine, and blah blah blah (I stopped listening). The daughter looks sideways at him as if to say Is this seriously the best you can do?, and meanwhile we look sideways at him as if to say Is this seriously the best you can do?
And that’s it. Any more time spent thinking about Alex Cross would be better spent…not doing that. Here are some of the more idiotic lines for your enjoyment:
Jean Reno: “Do you like nature, Dr. Cross?”
Madea: [dead serious] “Human nature.”
Picasso: “Good afternoon, detective. Am I calling at a bad time?”
Madea: “That depends…are you calling to tell me where you are so I can hunt you down like a rabid dog?”
Madea: “Here’s another emotion for you: pleasure…the pleasure I’m going to get when I watch your soul come oozing out of your body. You won’t like it.”
Picasso: [literally quotes Confucius]
Me: [stops listening]