Who would have thought that the funniest, most entertaining film Tyler Perry would ever be in would be one where he's not dressed in drag as a mouthy grandma?
But that's probably not what he was going for in his crime drama debut, Alex Cross. The actor trades the fat suit for a badge, reportedly shedding 30 pounds to play one of the most respected fictional detectives of all time (and the titular character at that). In the movie, which is a prequel of sorts from the stories we've seen about Cross Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, we meet the whip smart gumshoe just as he's toying with the decision to make the move to Virginia to join the FBI. He learns that he's going to be a father for the third time with his wife, Maria (Carmen Ejogo). And he and his longtime partner Tommy (Edward Burns) are in the midst of one of the most dangerous cases of their careers--the hunt for a crazed serial killer Cross nicknames "Picasso" (Matthew Fox) for his penchant for leaving behind sketches at a crime scene. When Picasso's latest victim hits close to home for Cross, the investigator makes it his mission to find Picasso and seek revenge.
This would be your typical uninspired suspense film that you could gratefully file under "popcorn movie of the week" if you didn't feel like gagging yourself with popcorn kernels as you continue to watch it. Not only is Perry completely unconvincing in the role, and Burns' goofy and clearly phoned-in performance grates on your nerves the entire movie, but the screenplay (or lack thereof in some parts) is simply mind numbing.
Director Rob Cohen's melodramatic camera close-up on one actor (usually Perry) as he delivered the most outrageous lines is laughable, at best. Can you really have a murder by numbers script that falls off the rails (or, one would argue, was never on the rails in the first place) within the first twenty minutes? It literally pays homage to every bad suspense movie by gathering each sloppy line and throwing it in the most inappropriate place in the script, just for fun.
The preposterous writing and poor character development--which make even the great Giancarlo Esposito and Jean Reno as
It's gotta suck for Perry, who underwent a
But no one was more unrecognizable than Party of Five and Lost alum Fox, who looks like he spent every waking minute at the gym working out with The Rock and running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia with Rocky. Why did he look that way? Because that's how people who are bonkers really look, apparently. Fox's performance might have been the most fascinating and unintentionally hilarious one to watch. He basically is a hyperactive pseudo lunatic, with a really bad twitch. Cohen also made it a point to to tell the audience when Picasso was about to do something extra crazy by vigorously jostling the camera (because we wouldn't otherwise notice as he clips off every finger of a young woman). It is just all so unnecessary.
Cohen continues his shaky camera ill effect all the way to the end of the movie when his camera trick just becomes deliriously ridiculous. But maybe by that point the audience will still be laughing too hard at everything that came before to notice. In either case, Alex Cross is certainly the weakest of the series, which reportedly will continue with Perry in the next film. God help us all. We can only hope for the best with that one.
Alex Cross is in theaters Friday.