Reviewed by: Brian C. Johnson
|Featuring:||Rachel Nichols … Monica Ashe
Giancarlo Esposito … Daramus Holiday
Tyler Perry … Dr. Alex Cross
Matthew Fox … Picasso
Jean Reno … Leon Mercier
Edward Burns … Tommy Kane
John C. McGinley … Richard Brookwell
Yara Shahidi … Janelle Cross
Carmen Ejogo … Maria Cross
Cicely Tyson … Nana Mama
Envision Entertainment Corporation
“Don’t ever cross Alex Cross.”
He’s made a name for himself as a prolific writer and director of stage, screen, and television; he has starred in nearly all of his creations, either as the principal or in cameo roles. His most famous character, Madea, has catapulted him to the national spotlight, earning him legions of loyal fans. But the question on many people’s minds is “Does Tyler Perry have what it takes to star in a film that he did not write?” That is the question that will be answered in director Rob Cohen’s “Alex Cross.”
Perry stars as the title character, a detective with a special gift for profiling the criminal mind. Cross’s predictions are never wrong, and his success in solving the most heinous crimes has earned him accolades and an offer to join the FBI. Cross, his wife Maria (Carmen Ejogo), their two children, and his mother, affectionately known as Nana Mama (played by critically acclaimed actress, Cicely Tyson), are preparing to move to Washington, D.C. Their moving plans are interrupted by an unnamed psychopathic killer with a penchant for pain who thrives on torturing his victims; Matthew Fox of “Lost” fame plays. Edward Burns rounds out the cast as Cross’s loyal partner, Tommy Kane.
The film is chock full of positive messages, especially on the importance of family. Cross is willing to go to any lengths to ensure the safety of his family, perhaps at the risk of his own soul. Regrettably, Alex falls victim to a vengeful spirit to the point where he is willing to walk outside the lines of the law in order to bring the killer down. Nana Mama serves as a voice of reason as she cautions Cross to maintain his composure and not risk becoming a different person because of rage; she urges him to think about his children and how to keep their respect.
Content-wise, the film walks a fine line—attempting to walk close enough to the lines of morality without going over. There is some sexual content; early in the film, Kane and his female partner, Monica, are having sexual intercourse; no nudity is present, but suggestive sounds make it clear what the characters are up to. The killer exercises in the nude, and there are side shots of his naked frame, but thankfully the camera stops before frontal nudity is shown. The first victim wears skimpy lingerie and has invited her killer into her bedroom with the goal of sex. Some alcohol and drug content, and just enough coarse language to hold the rating at PG-13. The violence is pretty extreme, as the idea of torture plays a heavy role throughout the film.
Overall, I give the film a B-/C+ as it holds the interest of the viewer, but the grade diminishes because the characters are not fully developed. There’s no real back story here; we get no real understanding of who these characters were before the action of the story—the characters are just flat. Fox gives a great performance that is far from his usual body of work, but still, his character is rather flat. Perry holds his own, but there is still something unbelievable or inauthentic about his presentation of the tough-as-nails homicide detective. (It is still good to see Perry doing something different that his usual shtick.)
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy—“Jesus” (3), “G_d damn” (3), “Oh my G_d,” f-word, s-word, hell (7), damn (4), ass (6), SOB (4) / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
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