There is no shortage of opinions when it comes to the recent Tyler Perry movie, Alex Cross. The thriller, based on James Patterson’s Alex Cross novels, follows Perry as Cross while he pursues a ruthless assassin masterfully portrayed by Matthew Foxx.
The Alex Cross character was originally brought to the big screen by Morgan Freeman in Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls. Now let’s take a moment to marinate on this. Morgan Freeman…Tyler Perry; someone has some big shoes to fill.
I would venture to say that Perry put his best foot forward. However, the effort that he put into playing the role is also the greatest hindrance in his overall performance; he tries too hard. Instead of becoming Alex Cross he creates a depiction of what the character might be. Therefore appearing like Tyler Perry playing Alex Cross instead of Tyler Perry as Alex Cross. This severe effort makes Perry’s dialogue, mannerisms, and facial gestures at times throughout the film appear forced an inauthentic. In short he is sorely miscast.
However, this misstep in casting falls to the responsibility of the producers and director; which Perry is neither. Apparently, handsome Idris Elba had signed on to play Cross in 2010 until he was replaced by Perry in 2011. So contrary to popular belief Alex Cross is in fact not a Tyler Perry movie and the fault does not rest squarely with him. He plays the lead character, but the film is directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious) and the screenplay was penned by Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson.
The biggest dilemmas with the film are its offhanded direction and sloppy screenplay. The script offered no assistance to the vacancy of clever direction. The dialogue is lackluster and loaded with exposition. I kept thinking, “this is a movie; show me, don’t tell me!” Talented writer, director, actor Ed Burns plays Perry’s childhood friend and police partner. However, the lifelong union of the two men seems unlikely. Ed Burns’ character is streetwise, rough around the edges, with a Long Island, New York edge. Tyler Perry’s Cross is conservative, polished, and very Atlanta-ish; hardly indicative of the same neighborhood.
The greatest asset to Cross was Matthew Foxx as diabolical assassin, Picasso. Known as the “good guy” from Lost; Foxx crossed over to the dark side to play this relentless killer. Losing most of his body fat, Foxx morphed into a devilishly lean killing machine.
Overall, I am not a fan of the film. I would recommend either Renting It on a slow night or Skipping It altogether. However, it is unfair to blame Tyler Perry for the movie’s problems.
Apparently, another Cross film is on the horizon for the future. Not sure how I feel about this, but due to Alex Cross being Perry’s first venture into suspense and action genre, I applaud his effort. It takes courage to even attempt to forge a career outside of the typical trappings of African-American stereotypical roles. Hopefully, the next time will be the charm.
-Jennifer Hall, CBS Local