Don't you hate it when you have hope for a movie and it lets you down? Have you ever simply ignored the bad press, the dismal reviews, and internet backlash and gone with your gut only to be proven wrong? Well, that was me with Alex Cross, the latest film from action director Rob Cohen and the third to feature the James Patterson's acclaimed detective, the previous two being Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider starring Morgan Freeman.
I'll admit, I should have known better. I'm smarter than that. But I let my ego get the better of me. I let the film's intriguing trailer buy me a ticket and I sat down in the theater wanting nothing more than a good time. Sadly, it wasn't meant to be and Alex Cross can take Dark Shadows' place as my most disappointing film of the year.
Intended as a reboot for the franchise and loosely adapted from the novel Cross, Alex Cross chronicles the days before he became an FBI agent and keeps the action in Detroit, where Cross (Tyler Perry) is still just a detective. When a new serial killer rises to fame Cross is put on the case, only to find himself backing into a corner where the killer dubbed 'Picasso' (Matthew Fox) can push him to his limits.
I've never been against Rob Cohen as a director. I thoroughly enjoyed The Fast and the Furious and XXX. I'll even admit to liking The Mummy - Tomb of the Dragon Emperor more than The Mummy Returns. Unfortunately, Alex Cross is more along the lines of his nigh-unwatchable Stealth than any of those. I can't blame it on the script either (we'll get to that later), Cohen's direction is simply lazy and that is never more evident than during the climax in which Cross finally confronts his adversary. The confrontation is set up with a coincidental car crash and concludes with a fistfight that features the worst shaky-cam imaginable. And as someone who usually supports shaky-cam, I have a hard time saying that.
Marc Moss' and Kerry Williamson's script is even worse. Gaping plot holes riddle every scene, characters are introduced and quickly forgotten, and the supposed 'twist' ending doesn't even make sense. Worse, their dialogue is choppy and ludicrous. Look no further than my opening quote for proof. Just poor.
Now, the movie isn't a complete failure, it actually does have a few things going for it, namely it's two leads. To be perfectly honest, I had no problem with Tyler Perry as Alex Cross. Now that may have to do with me having never seen a Madea movie (and nor do I intend to), but Perry's performance is perfectly fine. He's tense when asked, as emotional as the script allows, and shows some range. Not bad for a typecast actor. Matthew Fox on the other hand is truly a show stealer, practically gnawing on every line of cringe worthy dialogue and sinking his teeth into every desp*cable act his character commits. His physical transformation, however, is something else entirely. It's not as extreme as Christian Bale in The Machinist (not even close), but it's impressive nonetheless.
The supporting cast, on the other hand, oh boy. To say they do Perry and Fox no favors would be an understatement. Edward Burns is woefully miscast as Cross' partner, Tommy and Rachel Nichols, as beautiful as she is, has yet to provide me with evidence that she can actually act. Worse still, their performances are Oscar worthy compared to the god-awful stand-ins that populate every scene. Each one of them may as well have been pulled off the street.
I wanted to like this movie. I really did. I wanted to witness the start of a brand new franchise. I wanted to see an action movie that delivered on all fronts. But, I digress; Rob Cohen's film is a mess from start to finish. It's choppy, boring, uninspired, and a poor showcase for its obviously devoted leading man. However, Alex Cross does one thing right: It makes you want to read Patterson's novels. And I will, as well as pray the inevitable sequel falls into better hands.