“Alex Cross” is a silly film.
Unfortunately, it’s not a comedy.
Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) is a police detective with a leaning towards the psychological aspects of crime, owing to his background in psychology. He and his team catch a crime scene that looks as though they’re dealing with a cross between a psychopathic serial killer and professional hit man. The victims are a well guarded, wealthy woman and her three armed bodyguards. Her bodyguards were easily dispatched of, and none of her money or jewels were taken. Clearly an indication of a pro. Yet she was tortured while the killer sat nearby and sketched… obviously a sign of a psychopath.
“Picasso” (Matthew Fox), we’re shown, is fascinated by pain. He’s a lean, trained assassin who gets off on his work. He also has a major screw loose… there’s an undeniably masochistic element involved in what he does that stems from some unrevealed but hinted at trauma in his past.
Cross and his team unravel the clues “Picasso” left for them at the scene and determine his next victim. They then encounter him as he makes his next attack, and wind up foiling the kill for him. Which leaves “Picasso” very angry. After that, things become personal. Cross’ idyllic home life is threatened as “Picasso” turns his psychotic attention to the cop that almost caught him.
“Alex Cross” is some serious amateur hour stuff. The story struck me as something kids might make up, playing an imaginary game of cops and robbers. “Oh yeah? Well, I’ll just whip out a bazooka! BOOM!” “Pffft… I dive out of the way! And then I get in my car and chase after you and slam it into you!” “So? I jump out of the car and get away!” You get the idea. It feels as if the script was written in large “Easy to Read” font. “Picasso” has borderline superpowers. When it’s time to turn his attention to the Cops, he immediately has their names, numbers, addresses… But that’s ok, Cross has his share of mystical abilities, too. For example, he figures out who victim B will be from a clue at left victim A’s by performing a Mad Magazine fold-in trick on the sketch Picasso left behind.
I think both of the leads are a little out of their depth here. Both give earnest efforts at it, but neither had enough talent to turn this leaden script into gold. Fox’s psychopath was laughable to me from the moment I saw the first trailer, and seeing the film in its entirety did nothing to change my mind. Perry is sincere here, but he barely has 1/100th the charisma of his predecessor (Morgan Freeman). I’m glad now that I’ve seen it that Idris Elba didn’t wind up with this role (it was his for a while), I just don’t think this movie was salvageable.