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Alex Cross is Smarter Than Everyone October 18, 2012

Posted by Alichat in Humor, Life, Movies, Random.
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So, the ending to my very weird Tuesday was an early showing of Alex Cross.   The reboot of the franchise stars Tyler Perry as Cross, stepping in after Morgan Freeman’s two successful outings, and is very loosely based upon James Patterson’s 12th novel in the series, Cross.  (Full disclosure, I haven’t read any of the Patterson novels, but a quick Wikipedia search of the plot is why I say the movie is ‘very loosely based.’ )

In this outing, Alex Cross lives in Detroit, MI and is a detective in the police department with a doctorate in psychology.  He lives with his wife, two children, and his mother (portrayed by Cicely Tyson and a terrible wig….at least I hope it was a wig.)  Cross is partnered with his childhood friend, Det. Tommy Kane (Edward Burns), and Det Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols.)  They are assigned to investigate the torture and murder of an Asian woman, who’s really of no consequence because they don’t end up explaining really who she is in the film.  All we know is she died a painful death, seen in flashbacks as they go over the crime scene,  at the hands of a lunatic assassin they call Picasso.  Picasso is portrayed by Matthew Fox.  Gaunt and wide-eyed, he gives his character a robotic and psychotic flare.  I say robotic because he speaks as if he’s using Stephen Hawking’s vocalizer or doing an impersonation of that chess program from the movie WarGames. “Shall. we. play. a. game?”  You can hear hints of it in the movie promos.  “You. have. a. very. pretty. wife.”

I would love to say that I liked this movie, but I can’t.  It was a disappointment.  I like Tyler Perry.  He’s a good actor, and from what I’ve  read, he’s physically closer to the character of Alex Cross than Morgan Freeman.  But I’m afraid the script and director did Perry no favors.  The camera work was shaky and distracting.  Alot of it was hand held, making it hard to watch the scene due to all the jerky movements.  This was especially bad during the big fight scene between Cross and Picasso.  I just couldn’t get focused on their movements, and from what I did see, the choreography was rather lackluster.

To add insult to injury, the character of Picasso is one dimensional.  This would be ok if the intention was for him to have no depth.  But it would seem this was not the intent.  He is portrayed as someone who may have been experimented on. Perhaps some military experiment?  In most of his scenes, there is a moment when he ‘switches on’ to fits of rage.  These are dramatized by shots of him twitching his head left or right or grimacing or talking, edited in frenetic, schizophrenic, seizure inducing fashion which leads you to believe there will be some back story given on this character. Some sort of exposition will be given, at least to show that Cross’ profiling predictions were correct.  Nope.  So, machine gun scene of craziness, et voila!  Now he is no longer the calm, calculating assassin. He’s the tatted, bug-eyed lunatic assassin, who gets high off self-mutilation, smack talks the mirror, and spontaneously exercises buck naked. (A gratuitous move meant solely to show off Fox’s sculpted physique.)   In the end, he’s just a crazy murderer who is a really good shot, but isn’t a fan of being interrupted, taunted, or psycho-analyzed.  Ok. Got it.

The biggest weakness of this movie, to me, was the characterizations.  Specifically all the non-African American characters in the movie.  They are either murderers, idiots, or weak and submissive.  And don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to make this out to be some racial issue.  But Cross’ family isn’t portrayed in this fashion.  I think the intent was to emphasize Alex Cross’ intelligence and analytical prowess.  And that’s important.  But should it be done by dumbing down all the non-African American people around him?  Shouldn’t he be the smartest man in a room full of smart people?  Doesn’t that show more respect to his character?  His partner is more or less a sidekick. ‘You’re angry Alex?  Ok, so am I!  How do we go get the bad guy?’ And the worst ‘dumb person in the room’ was Cross’ superior officer, Sgt Brookwell (John C McGinley)  I honestly can’t decide if his cartoonish buffoonery was supposed to be intentionally funny.  Was he supposed to be a serious character?  Or was this just a poor choice in character portrayal by the actor, director, and screenwriter?  Also, a character, who just 10 minutes earlier in the film is portrayed as integral to the team, is tortured and murdered, and then never mentioned again.  There’s not even a funeral.  Nothing.

With this being a movie based upon a James Patterson novel, and produced by the author, I expected a sharper, more intellectual film.  More character development and less rogue lunacy.  I was genuinely surprised that the script was so uneven and weak.  I had no issue with Tyler Perry as Alex Cross.  I enjoyed his portrayal….as much as I could over the laughter.  Apparently the audience I was with thought they were watching a Madea movie, and would break out into fits of laughter when he’d turn a dramatic phrase.  Especially if it was something he’s uttered in his Madea persona before, such as “That’s what I’m trying to tell you.”   ***LAUGHTER***  Maybe it was the weird audience…..maybe it was the movie.  I just can’t tell.

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