ALEX CROSS: “As Far From ‘Madea’ As You Can Get”

Tyler Perry as Alex Cross
Matthew Fox as Picasso
Edward Burns as Tommy Kane
Rachel Nichols as Monica Ashe
Carmen Ejogo as Maria Cross
Cicely Tyson as Nana
John C. McGinley as Richard Brockwell
Jean Reno as Leon Mercier
In theaters October 19

Alex Cross (Perry) is a master detective for the Detroit Police Department. Along with his team, Tommy (Burns) and Monica (Nichols), he catches the most ruthless criminals and solves some of the toughest cases. He is a loving family man with a beautiful wife (Ejogo), two children with one more on the way, and a mother to care for. He is considering taking a position with the FBI as a profiler when his team catches a case of a gruesome quadruple homicide. The woman who was the intended victim was mutilated and tortured to death. Reading clues, Alex begins to get into the killer’s head in order to track him down and figure out his next move because this psycho has an agenda. Dubbed Picasso (Fox) because of a drawing he left at the scene of the massacre, this psycho is an ex-military assassin for hire. It’s up to Alex and his team to follow the clues to find this maniac’s next intended victim before more bodies hit the floor. While protecting Picasso’s next victim, the team gets close to apprehending the sadistic freak, but only succeeds in thwarting his plans for killing his next victim. This puts Alex and the team on Picasso’s radar as a problem to be dealt with. It then becomes a cat and mouse game between the two. As Alex goes after Picasso, he tries to get at the root of what makes him tick.  Picasso delights in taunting Alex, but becomes bored with Alex’s attempts to head shrink him. Picasso takes it personally, so he has to even the score. Someone close to Alex has to pay for annoying Picasso and making him miss his target. So he chooses another target – one very close to Alex.  We’re left wondering if Alex can bring Picasso down before he begins to take his anger out on his team or even his beloved family.

I know what you’re thinking: Tyler Perry? Isn’t he Madea? Hellrrrr. Well you can forget all of that! “Alex Cross” is about as far from “Madea” as you can get. Tyler fits the bill and suitably serves bad ass as James Patterson’s literary detective, a role previously played by Morgan Freeman in two movies (“Kiss the Girls,” “Along Came A Spider”). He transitions easily from family man to master detective to a hardcore cop bent on revenge, and he doesn’t take a false step. He is well-grounded by his mother, played wonderfully by the legendary Cicely Tyson. The real surprise is Matthew Fox as the psychopath, Picasso. Forget the characters of “Lost” and “Party of Five” – as Picasso, Fox is truly insane. He is a sick butcher taking the greatest of pleasure inflicting pain, physical or psychological, on his victims, dosing them with a drug that keeps them aware of all the pain he is inflicting, while debilitating their movement and response. Creepy and unsettling, he is ruthless in the pursuit of his targets. The struggle of wills between the two is electric and engaging.

Directed by Rob Cohen (“Fast and the Furious,” “xXx”), “Alex Cross” doesn’t pull any punches on the action. The film moves at a taut pace as Cross thoroughly and carefully reads into the mind of Picasso to take him down. There’s plenty bang-bang, shoot ‘em up action, but I thought the fight scene was a little choppy.  Although it moved at a quick pace, as you’re rooting for the hero, it was obvious that the fight coordinator definitely had their work cut out for them, but somehow it all works. I also admit another great reason to see this film is that part of it was filmed here in Detroit. It’s great to see the location shots and to hear the actors use actual streets and locations, as well. The cars also played a big part, as the Chevy SS and the Cadillac 300 take prominent product placement. It feels almost as if the TV drama “Detroit 187” was scripted into a film, but with a lot more grit. Do yourself a favor: Do not miss Tyler Perry’s turn in this role. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

5 out of 5 stars.

Check out the trailer for “Alex Cross” below:

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