Alex Cross

Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) is a brilliant psychologist who also happens to be a great cop.  He’s able to take his training in human behavior and use that to bring the worst of the bad guys to justice.  Helping him is his partner Thomas Kane (Edward Burns) and another detective Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols).  Against department policy, Kane and Ashe are involved in a romantic relationship that may prove to be serious.  Cross and Kane are called to the scene of a quadruple homicide in a very well-to-do part of town.  They find three men who were bodyguards dead and the woman they were guarding tied to a bed and tortured to death.  Kane thinks a small team of hired killers must have caused the carnage, but Cross is certain only one man was responsible.  In the bedroom, they also find a charcoal sketch that appears to be an abstract representation of their female victim.  Kane begins referring to the killer as Picasso (Matthew Fox).  The woman is associated with a multinational corporation that is spearheading a drive to revitalize downtown Detroit and the drawing, when folded properly, gives Cross a clue who in the company is the next victim.  When Cross, Kane and Ashe thwart Picasso’s next attack, they unwittingly become targets for the psychotic hit man, putting everyone they love in danger as well. 

 
Tyler Perry is the movie-making machine responsible for the juggernaut that is Madea, his wise-cracking female alter ego.  Perry usually writes, produces, directs and acts in his films but this time, he’s the hired talent for a character created by author James Patterson and performed in two previous movies by Morgan Freeman.  Can Perry transform himself from a filmmaker with a narrow focus into a mainstream action star?   Not if “Alex Cross” is any indication.  That isn’t fair to Perry since the movie doesn’t fail because of him.  It comes up short for many different reasons.
 
“Alex Cross” looks very much like the two hour premiere of a new police TV show.  It has thinly drawn characters who are easily identified types in an easy to follow story with an innocuous ending.  It is as by the numbers as any police procedural airing on network television.  A movie must be better than that and “Alex Cross” isn’t.
 
The character of Alex Cross is a dedicated family man who can figure out specifics about a killer just by taking a quick glance at the crime scene.  His statements about Picasso, from approximately 10 seconds of standing in the middle of a room surrounded by his victims, are never proven or disproven since we are never told anything about the emaciated, tattooed hit man.  Matthew Fox does his best with what should be a juicy nut job character, but his performance is reduced to nervous tics and inane pronouncements as he taunts Cross with cell phone calls (ignoring cell phones being traceable via GPS and cell towers, just like the script writer did).  Edward Burns, Rachel Nichols and Jean Reno all sleepwalk through roles that are underwritten.  Every character is easily replaceable except for Cross, of course.  But even Perry doesn’t do much with his title character.  He’s far more believable as a family man than as a top-notch detective and psychologist.  And as far as being an action hero goes, Perry really falls short there.  The movie makes the mistake of showing Perry without a shirt.  While he’s not fat, he’s certainly not in terrific shape.  Early in the film we’re shown Picasso is a skilled and ruthless hand-to-hand fighter who quickly dismantles an underground cage fighter in a match.  (SPOILERS!)  In the inevitable showdown between Cross and Picasso, it’s completely unbelievable that Cross could hold his own against the better trained, younger and more in shape opponent.  That’s probably why the final fight is shot with fuzzy focus and jittery camera work; but all it manages to do is to give the audience a case of motion sickness.  The film’s final resolution is equally unbelievable with a coup de grace delivered in a way that implies Cross is some kind of international criminal mastermind.  Sorry, I don’t buy it.
 
“Alex Cross” is rated PG-13 for violence including disturbing images, sexual content, language, drug references, and nudity.  There are two bloody fights, numerous shootings and the remains of two women who are brutally tortured.  The sexual content is limited and very brief.  The drug references are equally brief.  Foul language is scattered and infrequent.
 
While the film is largely inoffensive it also doesn’t give the audience much to work with.  Good suspense films should actually quicken the pulse and cause the viewer’s body to tense up in anticipation of what’s around the next corner or hiding under the bed.  “Alex Cross” never approaches anything resembling tension and my pulse never ticked up once.  The most pressing question on my mind as I watched the movie was if Madea would make a cameo.  I was disappointed and, should you see the film, you will be too.
 
“Alex Cross” gets two guitars out of five.
 
I’m taking a break this week so no new review until November 4.  That gives you two full weeks to ponder the next film I see and review.
 
Chasing Mavericks—Based on the true adventures of big wave surfing legend, Jay Moriarity, and his unique friendship with veteran surfer, Frosty Hesson.
 
Cloud Atlas—'Cloud Atlas' explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future.
 
Fun Size—Wren, a sarcastic high school senior, is eager to distance herself from her dysfunctional family by going off to college. Before that can happen, Wren's mother, Joy, insists that she watch her little brother Albert on Halloween night.
 
Silent Hill:  Revelation 3D—Heather and her father have been on the run, always one step ahead of dangerous forces that she doesn't fully understand. Now on the eve of her 18th birthday, Heather discovers she's not who she thinks she is.
 
Flight—A seasoned airline pilot miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board. After the crash, more questions than answers arise as to who or what was really at fault and what really happened on that plane?
 
The Man With the Iron Fists—Since his arrival in China's Jungle Village, the town's blacksmith has been forced by radical tribal factions to create elaborate tools of destruction.
 
Wreck-It Ralph—A video game character is tired of always being the bad guy.  He dreams of breaking through his programming and becoming a hero.
 
Stan’s Choice—Stan sees and reviews any film currently playing in theatres.
 
Release dates are subject to change and not all films may be shown in Knoxville, TN.
 
Questions or comments should be sent to stanthemovieman@att.net.  Follow Stan on Twitter @moviemanstan.