Tyler Perry branches out from his usual crowd for Alex Cross, an action thriller co-starring Lost‘s Matthew Fox and pieced together by known action director Rob Cohen. Alex Cross is as bad as it looks, sometimes even appearing to be worse than one could imagine. Perry’s bland attempt at being a tough-guy bumps heads with Fox’s beyond-saving psychopath character, making Alex Cross a predictable misfire that rewards the audience with lots of unintentional laughter and action sequences taken directly from the 90s or any other subpar Rob Cohen-directed flick.
Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) is one of the smartest and most determined cops in the field. He’s known for never letting anything get under his skin and for always being able to solve the most intricate cases. Murderers and rapists hide in fear whenever Cross is on the case, because chances are he’ll bust you without remorse.
He’s also got a big heart, which helps even out his hectic life. When he’s not shooting known criminals in the face or solving crimes with his appreciation towards charcoal paintings, he can be found at the nearest prison trying to help an innocent cellmate get her rightful freedom. And when he’s not helping out prison-mates he can be found at home entertaining his wife and other close relatives. Cross is an all-around people person, dishing up hot plates of justice, followed closely by some homemade apple pie if his shift ends on time.
What Cross isn’t prepared for is a completely psychotic assassin named Picasso (Matthew Fox). He’s not your average gun-for-hire or mass-murderer, oh no, Picasso is part of a rare breed of killers that enjoys pain above all else. He’s professional when the job calls for it, but he loves to digress when appropriate in order to meet his sadistic daily torture quota. Picasso runs into Cross in an event that can be described as either fate or bad luck, but what we do know is that it alters the two of their lives forever.
Rob Cohen mounts this decade-too-late action film with traditional camerawork that you’d expect from someone that directed xXx or The Fast and the Furious. Cohen is less interested in creating a fresh detective story or fine-tuned action picture and instead focused on rehashing as many cliches from the 90s as possible. Alex Cross comes loaded with cheaply made action, written-on-napkin supporting characters and two leads that are so far out on the edge of sanity it starts to make you question which one you’re supposed to root for.
Tyler Perry is interesting as the leading man Alex Cross. He brings his usual Perry “magic” to the role, which consists of innocent, but corny family jokes and lots of goodness that seems to come from nowhere. He’s constantly surrounded by death and despair, yet he’s always looking at the silver lining. Perry never works as a straight-faced hero, but he’s sure a hell of a lot of fun to watch on-screen, spitting out angry dialogue that almost always ends with the word maggot. He’s a complete riot watching as he helplessly attempts to become as deadly as the man he’s chasing. At no point does he sell you on Alex Cross as a real human being, but I think it’s more fun watching him try and bring his own version of confident and motivated to the screen with such a big smile on his face.
Matthew Fox hilariously drips with intensity as his 145lb-looking character Picasso goes bonkers whenever someone hits him in the face. Fox is tapping a textbook comic-book villain bad guy in his role and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Fox is always taking things a step further. Whenever Perry starts to tone down and level out, Fox is grabbing the rope and pulling his hardest. He should be rewarded for his role, but it’s mostly wasted in a film that has no idea what to do with its center characters or those working around them.
Cohen doesn’t seem to be all that worried with pacing or story reveals, because important plot lines are almost forgotten within five minutes, yet poorly edited action shootouts go on forever. Cohen has always had a knack for this kind of flimsy filmmaking that I find to be incredibly annoying and Alex Cross is no different than any of his other half-cooked or half-prepared films.
What makes Alex Cross so bad also makes it sort of good, in a so-bad-it’s-good sort of way. Perry and Fox have absolutely no chemistry. They couldn’t start each other on fire if they were both covered in gasoline and armed with trusty Zippo lighters. They both try so damn hard to sell their own characters, but when together it’s simply the battle of the weirdest, with Fox inching out slightly ahead of Perry because of his character’s natural messed up state of mind. Perry holds his own though and slaps the film with so much off-putting humor that almost feels like it’s not supposed to be funny. That doesn’t make any sense, but neither does Alex Cross.
The direction is sloppy and reminiscent of those horrible 90s cop dramas (or even some of the ones still circulating today) and even the action is filmed without a sense of character placement or a pure idea of what is trying to be told. The ending showdown is such a headache to watch and what’s more upsetting is the need for a literal last minute twist that feels irrelevant and almost like it was taken from an entirely different script. I’m sure Cohen just wanted to close things up a little tighter, but it really doesn’t do the film any favors.
I’d absolutely pay to see Alex Cross on opening night, because I love a good laugh and I think Tyler Perry‘s screen presence is unmatched and peculiar. I also think anything with Matthew Fox that doesn’t involve Lost is naturally a good thing. But I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and say Alex Cross is worth your dollars. It really isn’t and it should be avoided, unless you too share that weird Perry love that has been mixed into my bloodstream after watching (and surviving) several Madea films. Next up, Tyler Perry in a horror film?
Alex Cross – 5/10