Alex Cross (2012)
The last time we saw F.B.I. profiler Alex Cross on the big screen, he was played by Morgan Freeman in both Kiss the Girls (1997) and Along Came a Spider (2001). The franchise, inspired by novels of author James Patterson, were subsequently rebooted in 2012 with Tyler Perry in the lead role. Alex Cross attempts to establish the origins of the character and explore a pivotal case he investigated while a detective in Detroit. Alex Cross and his partners Tommy Kane (Edward Burns) and Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols) cross swords with a serial killer they dub Picasso (Matthew fox), who is murdering the business associates of French Industrialist Mercier (Jean Reno). During the course of the investigation it becomes clear that the killer has a specific interest in Cross himself.
Alex Cross is based upon a central protagonist whose primary skills are his mental and analytical abilities. By nature, the character is first and foremost a thinker. Unfortunately, this element is quickly abandoned in the movie which opts for a pure action approach to the material. Suspense and drama are replaced with more obvious visual cues. Matthew Fox despite looking the part has an ill-defined role. The weak script by Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson is content to establish him as an evil character simply by the violent act he commits. Furthermore, Tyler Perry's overtly theatrical performance somewhat smothers the subtleties of Alex Cross.
Director Rob Cohen uses a great deal of visual gimmickry and cranks the pace, editing and volume up to eleven. It is his signature approach that works well with certain types of movies but seem jarringly inappropriate with this material. The same could also be said for Ricardo Della Rosa's under-lit cinematography with its muted colour palette. The movies tone puts it at odds with its PG-13 rating. Alex Cross therefore cannot fully explore its own strong themes and seems more to titillate than shock. The entire movie reeks of contemporary board room film making in the way that the source material has been so obviously misunderstood. Talk about trying to put a square peg in a round hole.
Alex Cross is a stilted endeavour and a missed opportunity. The central roles are miscast and the directing is in the wrong idiom. The movie needs to decide what it exactly wants to be. As it is, it sits awkwardly between a psychological thriller and a generic action movie. Its faults are further compounded by its mean-spirited nature. As a result Alex Cross did not kickstart a lucrative franchise, despite the threat of a sequel. For a closer approximation of the central character revisit the earlier adaptations. They are not without flaw but are better than this.