Title: Alex Cross
Director: Rob Cohen (‘The Fast and the Furious, ‘XXX’)
Starring: Tyler Perry, Edward Burns and Rachel Nichols (‘Star Trek,’ ‘G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra’)
Creating a suspenseful, intriguing action crime film adaptation of a novel by one of the world’s most popular authors is a daunting task. The adaptation can become even more unnerving when the film is a reboot of several moderately successful movies from over a decade ago. Such is the case with the new move ‘Alex Cross,’ which is not only based on James Patterson’s novel ‘Cross,’ but also reboots the well-known detective series starring Morgan Freeman. Director Rob Cohen seemed like the perfect choice for the job, after helming such action films as ‘The Fast and the Furious, ‘XXX’ and ‘The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor;’ unfortunately, the multiple unsettled plot points and hectic cinematography he included took away from the well-intentioned film.
‘Alex Cross’ follows the title detective/psychologist (played by Tyler Perry), who picks up the case of the ruthless Four Rose Killer with his Detroit homicide unit, including his childhood friend, Tommy Kane (portrayed by Edward Burns) and Monica Ashe (played by Rachel Nichols). The team nicknames the assassin (portrayed by Matthew Fox), who is killing high-ranking executives, Picasso because he creates drawings of the murder victims that are reminiscent of the works of the famed artist. As the team, particularly Alex, becomes even more determined to stop the killer before he can kill again, he personally tries to throw the detectives off his trail by personally attacking them. Alex is pushed to his moral and psychological limits as he relentlessly, and at times illegally, pursues Picasso. While Alex pursues the assassin, he tries to convince his wife, Maria (Carmen Ejogo), that he should accept the FBI’s offer to work as a psychological profiler in their Washington, D.C. office, so that they could have a more stable home life.
Cohen surprisingly cast Fox as the villainous and malicious Picasso. Despite the actor’s humane relatability that he has garnered from the beginning of his career and his small, unintiminating frame throughout ‘Alex Cross,’ Fox daringly pushed the boundaries of the ominous killer. The actor portrayed Picasso as vicious and continuously devoted to his mission of bringing down the executives, despite his subtle indications to Alex that he has suffered emotional pain himself. The assassin’s motives were rightfully motivated by his own painful past, leading him to take suspenseful means to inflict the same pain on others.
Despite the intriguing casting of Fox in the complex role of Picasso, ‘Alex Cross’ screenwriters Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson unfortunately failed to capture the true essence of the James Patterson novel the film is based on, ‘Cross.’ Inn the books the title detective and psychological profiler is mainly driven to act in the best interest of his family and friends, and rarely allows a case to profoundly influence his personal relationships and well-being. However, the lead character in the film often times appears unemotionally connected to the people and cases closest to him. Perry at times portrays Alex as merely acting through the motions of wanting revenge on Picasso, as opposed to truly feeling the need to take down a killer that poses harm to him.
Moss and Williamson’s script also sets up relationships and situations in the beginning of the film that appear to have a significant influence on the detectives’ pursuit of Picasso. However, they ultimately fail to provide any overall conflict and/or resolution to ‘Alex Cross,’ and eventually just slow down the action and pace of the story. For example, there’s a major scene in the beginning of the movie that focuses on Alex’s questioning and disapproval of Tommy’s personal relationship with Monica outside of the job. While the interaction showcases the ease the two detectives feel with each other, discussing their private matters, Tommy and Monica’s personal relationship is hardly mentioned or showcased again throughout the film.
The cinematography for the film adaptation of Patterson’s twelfth book, which was led by Ricardo Della Rosa, was shaky and unfocused at times, which in part took away from the suspense and anticipation of the story. During the fight scenes between the detectives and the assassin, the camera work at times becomes chaotic and challenging to follow, making viewers wonder who was indeed winning the struggles. While the fights are meant to be engaging and chronicle the physical and psychological struggles between the detectives and Picasso, their intense choreography is lost in the hectic, frenzied camerawork.
While the two previous thriller film adaptations of Patterson’s Alex Cross novels, 1997′s ‘Kiss the Girls’ and 2001′s ‘Along Came a Spider,’ saw a decent return at the box office, ‘Alex Cross’ will unfortunately have a struggle captivating audience’s attention. From the uninspired, unemotional representation of the title character to the several unresolved situations in Moss and Williamsons’ script to the at-times confusing cinematography, ‘Alex Cross’ is an unfortunate unimaginative film adaptation of the popular literary character.
Written by: Karen Benardello