Alex Cross is an action-thriller based on the best-selling book Cross by James Patterson. The books (now totalling at nineteen) revolve around the titular detective, Alex Cross. He is famous for using deduction and logic to catch criminals rather than fighting or violence. You know, like every single literary detective since Sherlock Holmes. The books were previously adapted in 1997 and 2001, as Kiss The Girls and Along Came A Spider. Both of those films were negatively received, but were big box office successes. Fast forward nine years, and a reboot is in production, with Idris Elba attached to star. However, for unknown reasons, he was replaced with Tyler Perry (thankfully not in drag).
Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) is a detective working and living in Detroit with his wife and kids. He is hot on the trail of a psychotic serial killer who calls himself Picasso (Matthew Fox). Picasso has a habit of tortured his victims by injecting with a drug that stops them from being able to move at all, but leaving them fully aware of what’s going on. As Cross gets deeper and deeper into the case, Picasso pushes him further emotionally and physically, putting him on edge and slowly driving him insane.
Going into Alex Cross one might think it would be a psychological take on a thriller. If you were thinking that, you will be extremely disappointed. If you weren’t thinking that and just want a fun, action packed thriller, you’ll also be disappointed. It is certainly action packed, but note the first part: ‘fun’. Fun is something this film is not. Instead, it’s dull, boring, and had me falling asleep in the cinema. The script is wooden, the direction is messy, and the lead performance by Tyler Perry is simply dreadful. I haven’t read the books, or seen the previous films, so I was going into this with fresh eyes. Maybe it’s better with the original source material, but a film should be able to stand on it’s own with knowledge of what it’s based on.
The main problem with the film is the plot. The story of Picasso could have been an interesting one, but little to no backstory is given to him and his only real defining trait is that he’s evil. One of the most intense sequences in the film, which is a major turning point and the introduction to the final act, is utterly spoiled by the fact that the trailer showed the ending of this sequence as a major part of the advertising! It ruins one of the only bearable bits in this film. Possibly the reason they showed that is because there was so little else they could show it was all they could do. This film suffers from the unique problem of having too much plot, and yet no plot at all. The points that it seems like the story might making at least a bit of sense are immediately squandered by a horribly directed action scene or some half baked exposition, which makes the story no easier to follow, and only serves to confuse more.
Alex Cross may have had potential. If you had just got a different director, writer, and lead actor, it might have worked. It possibly would have worked better as a TV show than a movie. Wait a second, oh yes. They already did that. It’s called Luther. It stars Idris Elba, it airs on BBC One, and it’s what this should have been. Go watch that, it’s much better than this tripe. Given the fact that the film grossed $23 million on a $35 million budget, I think we can pretty much rule out any future Alex Cross franchise they may have had in store for us.