ALEX CROSS. Starring Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Rachel Nichols and Giancarlo Esposito. Directed by Rob Cohen. 101 minutes. Rated M (violence and sexual references).
I’m afraid that this will probably be quite a disappointment for fans of James Patterson’s Alex Cross novels, even though he and his Entertainment Company have producer’s credits. For those unfamiliar with the books and the characters, this film will be a routine police movie.
The plot is a prequel to the stories of Dr Alex Cross, forensic psychologist, working for the CBI. Here he is in Detroit as a detective, working with schoolfriend, Tome Kan (Edward Burns). Cross is happily married with two children and they live with his mother, Mama Nana. She is played by the fine actress, Cicely Tyson, but does not resemble the character in the novels very much. She is rather skinny and irascible rather than a nice, if demanding, mammy type of the books.
We are introduced to the villain, a skinhead, gaunt ex-army assassin, Mathew Fox (rather nasty as are so many of the villains Alex Cross has to confront). The plot takes the global financial crash as the basis for the killing of several international financiers, led by Jean Reno.
Cross does his detective work, smart in his conclusions, incurring the enmity of the ambitious but rather dumb police chief, John C. McGinley.
After a very personal section which moves Cross to a spirit of vengeance, the main action is in the attempt to kill the victims, the subsequent chase, and the following through to who hired him. Rather formulaic, as they say.
There is probably more appeal for an American audience, especially the African American audience with writer-director-actor, Tyler Perry in the central role. He has made a number of very popular films which have had no theatrical release in Australia. He is also taking the place of Morgan Freeman who was Alex Cross in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Kiss the Girls was one of the best adaptations of a novel, keeping the basic plot, preserving the mystery and with Freeman creating a memorable character with strength and dignity.
This time the director is Rob Cohen in his action thriller vein, like The Fast and the Furious. Which all means that the film is rather average.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out November 8, 2012.