Alex CrossReleased on October 19, 1012 0 comments
First of all, let’s just say it’s good to see Tyler Perry’s giving up the huge dresses in favor of a suit.
Usually the big man makes his own films and does his own directing, but this time he’s stepping out to play Alex Cross, the psychologist cop who returns to the screen after a 12-year hiatus.
Perry is a going concern for an army of acolytes like Oprah, whose been singing his praises for years. Ms. Winfrey takes more than her share of shots from us, and most of the time they are justified. But Perry has worked hard to create a name for himself on television and in films. He deserves her praise as well as his success. The Madea flicks might not everyone’s thing, but so what? They have a massive following and Perry himself comes off as more than likeable. At least they’re put out there for laughs. It’s not like he’s making his name atop shite like the “Hostel” series. Perry’s affability might be his best weapon, and it’s forefront in “Alex Cross,” at least that is, until the character’s family becomes prey for Matthew Fox’s sociopath.
Despite all of this and his Perry’s noble intentions, this movie is looking at a tough climb, for reasons that have nothing to do with him.
It was the great Morgan Freeman who inhabited Cross in the first two installments, “Kiss the Girls,” and 2001’s “Along Came A Spider.” Despite the absolute ludicrousness of the scripts, the films were watchable because of the gravitas he brought to the character. Freeman has the chops to elevate almost anything he’s in, whether playing the loyal Red in Shawshank, or narrating the patter of penguins. Holly-stupid would never let a profitable franchise simply dry up, at least not before getting every last dime possible. Freeman was likely offered a load of coin to bring Cross back, but for whatever reason begged off. Now he’s simply too old. Still, losing his presence means building an entirely new and much younger audience, from a crowd that shuns attention spans. Hurdle number one.
Number two would be the decidedly trashy and weak source material. James Patterson is one of the world’s most successful novelists, though to call him that is a bit like calling Nicki Minag a singer. Early on Patterson must have realized he was a hack, so he rightly set a course to at least be an amusing one. Like Harold Robbins back in the day, and more recently Jackie Collins and Danielle Steele, your stories can be synthetic manure if your characters are great looking, have gymnastic-style sex, and are loaded. Patterson does deserve credit for turning Alex Cross into a beacon with the Wal-Mart set. The fact that this supposed genius of the criminal mind is mired in situations a seven year old might have come up with is beyond the point.
Which brings us to issue 3 – the one sitting in the Director’s chair. Back during the Millennium scare, Rob Cohen somehow conned the studio toads into letting him helm the first “Fast And Furious.” (One was apparently enough as he got none of the sequels.) Cohen is a creature of television, working mostly on stuff we’ve never heard of. We don’t know why the black-suited oafs decided to let him oversee the Cross re-boot. There had to be other minutely talented video-game togs in need of rent money.
(Cohen apparently did graduate from Harvard, though this carries much less cache now that we know the Crimsons cheat on tests like everyone else.)
In the final rendering, no matter how Perry performs the odds are pretty well stacked outside his control. Then again, never underestimate the power of the Oprah friendship. That would be a mistake.