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IN SHORT: Grab the big popcorn. Kill two hours. [Rated PG-13 for violence including disturbing images, sexual content, language, drug references, and nudity . 101 minutes]
With a new actor in the title role, the one thing we noticed on the way out of our screening of Alex Cross was this: the African-Americans in the audience applauded Tyler Perry's performance. The Caucasians were saying "I miss Morgan Freeman."
Cranky misses a decent script, which is what will kill Alex Cross in the long run. Tyler Perry, in a film that essentially reboots the franchise, shows some dramatic chops BUT he is stymied by a screenplay that, at times, makes not a lick o' sense.
The story begins thusly: Some person with a flair for the sadistic has killed a very rich person. We viewers first meet "Picasso" (Matthew Fox) as he buys his way on to the ticket of a Mixed Martial Arts match. Picasso warns his opponent not to hit him in the head, "or you'll never fight again."
The brutality of it all apparently turns on one beautiful lady at ringside, the phenomenally wealthy Fan Yau Lee (Stephanie Jacobsen) who brings Picasso home for a post-fight snack (sic). Though she has multiple bodyguards to protect her and frisk him for weapons, all will be dead in the morning. Thus are we reintroduced to Dr. Alex Cross (Tyler Perry), homicide detective with a Ph.D in Psychology (thus the "Dr.") who, with his working partners Tommy Kane (Ed Burns) and Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols) will take on the case. Cross, thankfully, has a habit of explaining everything to all those of feeble minds around him -- his partners don't seem to mind and it sure takes a load off the screenwriter who can then push the story in directions it logically wouldn't seem to go.
A second murder attempt -- that Cross has almost magically figured out before it takes place -- indicates that the killer is set on taking down the controlling members of a multi-national corporation led by one Giles Mercier (Jean Reno). Said corporation has plans to rebuild the crumbling city of Detroit from the ground up, making it a true "City of the 21st Century." Once foiled, "Picasso" sets his sights on the Detective and his team.
There are subplots about a relationship between Tommy and Monica; and the news that Cross and his wife Maria (Carmen Ejogo) are about to have another child -- which means we get to see a couple of minutes of their home life, in a house still dominated by the good doctor's mother (the great Cicely Tyson, whose presence overwhelms every other actor in the piece).
But the film doesn't work. Either the script was just not ready or director Rob Cohen has butchered whatever he had in the editing bay; we neither know nor care. Whether Alex Cross succeeds well enough to yield a sequel will probably fall on the wallets of those who applauded in the screening we attended (see the first paragraph). That's a shame.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Alex Cross, he would have paid . . .
As disposable a dateflick as you can get. Better to wait and rent so you can scream at the teevee.
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