Alex Cross

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: -2

Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Rachel Nichols, Jean Reno. Cop action thriller. Written by Marc Moss, Rob Cohen, Kerry Williamson. Directed by Rob Cohen.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Based on the best-selling novels by James Patterson, Alex Cross follows the young homicide detective/psychologist (Tyler Perry), from the worldwide best-selling novels by James Patterson, as he meets his match in a serial killer (Matthew Fox). The two face off in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, but when the mission gets personal, Cross is pushed to the edge of his moral and psychological limits in this taut and exciting action thriller.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Poor Tyler Perry (Madea’s Family Reunion, Diary of a Mad Black Woman). He catches flack from this reviewer for directing himself in film after film, while dressed in drag. So, then he does a detective actioneer, directed by someone else, while maintaining his real-life religious convictions, and still he’s going to catch it from me. I’m hard to please.

First off, Tyler Perry is a Christian and a fine filmmaker. And I wouldn’t want my perceived dislike of his films to be linked with the fact that he does not screen his own films for critics. Though that is irksome and betrays his ego, the reason I don’t like his movies is simple; they’re not that good. They’re okay. They’re just not that good. If you keep making the same movie over and over, you should get better at it. He doesn’t. The reason? I maintain it is because he thinks that, like Charlie Chaplin, he can direct, star, produce and write his own productions.

Tyler Perry is no Charlie Chaplin. He needs to let others help with the heavy lifting. But in almost each review I do of his films, I have maintained that he’s a solid filmmaker burdened down by Madea drag padding and far too much self-assurance.

Here he lets someone else write, produce and direct. But there’s still one more thing he needs – the ability to choose a script. This one is a muddled mush about a sadistic assassin who sets out to destroy the life of a cop/psychologist who got in the way of one of his hits. We are spared the gory scenes, with just lots of talk about the gruesome details, such as a dead, tied-up body of a female who was literally tortured to death when she thought she was just going to have a kinky good time with a stranger. (Hopefully, only in movies do people let other people tie them up in order to have a good time.) This same woman had all her fingers cut off – we’re told – while she is helpless under a drug that keeps her aware, but unable to defend herself. There are other unpleasantries concerning evildoing to others.

The filmmakers in charge do just about everything wrong that they can, beginning with the hand-held herky-jerky camera. I know audiences have accepted this MTV video-style use of the camera, but this film so overuses the effect that it becomes laughable. For example: we get a strong dose of the wavering camera while pointed at a person sitting, having a genial conversation. It serves no purpose. It’s just annoying. Yet it happens over and over. It’s no longer a style. It’s just the way they shoot movies these days. Then during the climactic battle scene, the camera operator goes wild, weaving and bobbing about, making it difficult to see who’s punching who. The lady sitting next to me at the screening said it was making her sick. And sure enough, each person I overheard as we filed out of the film, including my colleagues in criticism, complained of the overuse of the effect.

Perhaps some good will come out of it. Maybe this will signal the end of the abusive use of the hand-held camera. ‘Course, I’m not counting on that. I just live in hope.

At times the film wants to be a family drama. Trouble is, the killer kills off the lead’s wife and the rest of the family is shipped off to safety and not seen again until the epilogue. It wants to be a cop-buddy movie, and admittedly comes close. Both Perry and Burns share a chemistry that feels as if they have been partners for years. But we’ve seen this time and again. There’s just nothing new here. Even their boss is a jerk, played by an actor who always plays jerks.

Also in the stew is the lead’s ability to look over a crime scene and see things no other cop can. He’s like Monk, only not afraid of germs, heights or milk. Sadly, these are Mr. Perry’s most unconvincing moments, along with the action scenes, where the hulking actor looks as though he’s unable to chase or fight the stringy villain without the aid of that herky-jerky camera trick.

Though the film has lots of carnage, with shootings, torture, a jolting car crash, and a few explosions, Tyler Perry does one thing in keeping with his religious faith – he doesn’t swear. His character is seen in prayer and in church. His demeanor suggests that he is a believer. Sadly, others in the cast are allowed to utter Christ’s name as if it were no more than an expletive for relieving frustration. Maybe it would have been better if Tyler Perry had directed it. You see, the guy just can’t get a break from me.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Summit Entertainment

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: A few minor expletives and two uses of the s-word.

Profanity: One profane use of God’s name and three of Christ’s; none from the lead.

Violence: From stem to stern, the violence somehow escaped the R-rating; we see a woman abused in a bed and about to have one of her fingers cut off with a pair of scissors; we later learn she was tortured to death, and see that each of her fingers is in a bowl, having been cut off; another woman is kidnapped and left tied on a bed, we learn she was also tortured to death; still another woman is gunned down while eating in a restaurant; the men don’t do much better; there’s a great deal of brutality in the film, and lots of carnage brought on by shootings, stabbings, explosions, beatings and one jolting car crash. Some blood, but not as much as you’d expect after a person had all her fingers cut off.

Sex: One sexual encounter leads to a kinky situation, then murder.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Drug references and people are seen drinking.

Other: None

Running Time: 101 minutes
Intended Audience: Adult and older teens

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