Madea’s criminal investigation unit
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Film: Alex Cross
Release Date: Oct. 19
Studio: QED International
Dr. Alex Cross is an investigating Swiss Army knife – he takes one glance at the aftermath of a crime scene and can calculate how many culprits were involved, which weapons the criminals used and how the crime occurred step by step. He’s an overdramatic movie detective who can determine his wife’s pregnancy by spotting a coffee stain on her blouse.
If real-life criminal investigation units had prophets like Dr. Cross, many criminals would settle for early retirement. He must’ve been the FBI’s valedictorian; he is as advanced in solving mysteries as Liam Neeson’s Taken character is at capturing sex traffickers.
Unfortunately, this filmnever allows for its audience to suspend belief like the Taken series. Alex Cross acts like an ordinary TV crime drama that’s disguised as a 90-minute feature film, containing all of the regular character archetypes, car explosions, insane ex-military villains and off-the-shelf masculine one-liners.
Cross (Tyler Perry, Madea’s Witness Protection) has pursued an FBI career in Washington, D.C. his whole life. But his hesitant wife, Maria (Carmen Ejogo, Sparkle), doesn’t want to disrupt their family’s routine because that’s what movie housewives are contractually obligated to do. Maybe one day, Hollywood will open its shades and realize women don’t specifically exist to inconvenience the aspirations of men.
But Alex Cross isn’t marginally short of entertainment – it at least provided a worthy villain, played by an unrecognizable Matthew Fox (Emperor). Fox has a long list of noticeable roles, but none have come close to this. He is petite in stature but has bulk muscles and snake-like veins running over his body. He observes human nature in disgust and uses this hatred to drive his murders.
But, alas, a plain script ruins Fox’s character. After murdering a victim, he leaves behind a painting as aclue for the police about his next victim and is dubbed “Picasso.” There’s nothing logical about Picasso’s attempt to aid his pursuers because no murderer on Earth would lend his pursuers a cheat code of his plans. This is just another attempt to spice up a dead plot.
Cross and company are, of course, assigned the Picasso case, and Cross quickly makes sense of the clues. The relationship between Cross and Picasso becomes minimally engaging, especially when they dispute about psychoanalysis. Their dialogue against each other is all right, but the action scenes are too blurry and obscure to work.
Among other reasons, the main issue with Alex Cross is that it takes itself too seriously. The preposterous action scenes aren’t an issue because action filmmakers always ignore their physics lessons. A crime thriller needs to embrace its absurdity and allow everyone involved to have fun. But fun is the worst adjective to describe Alex Cross – both the movie and the character.
Perry doesn’t have the charisma to be an action star. Because of his comedic status, he buckled down too much and unintentionally gave his character the personality of a statue. He always looks nervous, and he monotones his dialogue just enough to get past each scene. Perry never gives anyone a reason to believe what he says or does, perhaps because he doesn’t believe it himself.
It’s tough to blame director Rob Cohen (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) for the catastrophe. He previously made The Fast and the Furious and Dragonheart, two films that remained self-aware and confident in the preposterous material. Cohen seems like an ideal choice for an action extravaganza like this, but his direction shows he didn’t enjoy himself making this film. And if the filmmaker doesn’t have fun, then the audience suffers and doesn’t have fun either.
Alex Crossnever detaches itself from being generic. This is the kind of film that moves its plot predictably from A-Z with nothing memorable in between for the audience to absorb. Action movies aren’t supposed to teach lessons, but they should at least try to stand out from the countless other entries in the genre.
Alex Cross will be caught in the mix and forgotten about within a year.