Alex Cross is the third film to feature the title character and star of the best-selling mystery and thriller series of novels written by James Patterson. In the first two films the character was portrayed by Morgan Freeman and this time around he is played by Tyler Perry in a reboot/prequel. Cross is a forensic psychologist with the FBI although in this film he has not joined the FBI yet and is still a lieutenant with the Detroit Police Department. Cross is offered a job with the FBI but his pregnant wife is reluctant to move to Washington D.C.
Fox and his team of Tommy (Burns) and Monica (Rachel Nichols) are investigating a murderer who is targeting several extremely wealthy targets. They are able to thwart the attempt on the life of a German businessman and in retaliation the killer, who calls himself Picasso (Fox) turns his attention to Cross and his team. The sadistic Picasso first murders Cross’s wife and then tortures and kills Monica who was Tommy’s lover.
Cross and Tommy now risk their careers, breaking into the Detroit Police evidence lockup in order to get the information they need to hunt down Picasso before he can take out his last wealthy victim, a billionaire named Giles Mercier (Jean Reno), and disappear.
Cross is one of those Sherlock Holmes type minds who can make deductions from the most scant pieces of evidence. The problem is that Rob Cohen almost gives Cross a superhuman level of intuition. With a fluffball script, Cross just seems to figure everything out without any effort to rationalize how he did so. So you end up with a guy who is the smartest guy in the room going up against a sadistic nutcase in a bizarre series of silly cat and mouse contests. Picasso is one jump ahead of Cross but drives around in a car equipped with Onstar that allows him to be tracked.
It’s this sort of wild inconsistency that causes Alex Cross to shoot itself in the foot and it’s stopped off with an utterly stupid twist ending. I would hazard to guess that Picasso would not have a long career as a hitman being so easily upset that he loses sight of his main target to begin a vendetta with local law enforcement. Perry is a talented writer and producer but less so of an actor, particularly for a dramatic thriller such as this. He’s far too wooden and his range of emotions is almost nonexistent.
Matthew Fox is little better as the psychotic hitman. Fox’s attempt to come off as a cold-blooded killer is trumped by his over-the-top nuttiness. Subtlety is not the character’s strong point! And I’m not sure what’s going on with him but he appears to have been on a hunger strike since Lost went off the air. He looks positively anorexic and unhealthy.
John C. McGinley plays Cross’s commanding officer Captain Brookwell and he’s equally horrible. As a native of the Detroit area I can tell you that a dimwit like this wouldn’t last a week in the city. Burns is always solid in supporting roles although he isn’t given much to do here. Cicely Tyson plays Cross’s grandmother and she’s also enjoyable. It’s nice to see Tyson back onscreen in recent years after she had mostly been absent from films for some 20 years.
Audio Commentary with Director Rob Cohen
The Psychologist and the Butcher: Adapting and filming Alex Cross (14:00) short making of documentary featuring interviews with cast members as well as James Patterson.
Deleted Scenes (5:00)