Alex Cross

tn_alexcrossI have no familiarity with this Alex Cross character, either from the books by James Patterson or the two previous movies starring Morgan Freeman. But when they do a new one starring the guy from the Madea movies and from the director of STEALTH and the bad guy is Matthew Fox as a perverted ex-military, scuba-diving, charcoal-drawing, mixed martial artist assassin/rapist I figure it might be worth a look. And it is.

I’m not saying this is a good or even passable movie. It seems more like a fake parody movie from within another movie or a TV show than an actual thing that professional people would purposely make and release. But I mean that as a compliment. This is some awesomely stupid bullshit right here. You will like it. Or at least I did.

Dr. Alex Cross (Tyler Perry [!?]) is apparently some kind of super-profiler/psychologist/family man who is introduced running through a sewer shooting at some guy. So he’s also a supercop. He lives in Detroit where he has a team of detectives including Thomas Kane (Ed Burns) and Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols from GI JOE 1 and P2). He has Sherlock Holmes style intuitive super powers, which he uses to play around with his wife and then to insist to Kane that a massacre they’re investigating was committed by one man. This is supposed to show how awesome he is that he knows this, but it’s not really clear how he knows for sure. He’s just real intuitive I guess is whole thing.

mp_alexcrossIn today’s adventure they take on the unnamed assassin played by Fox. This character is introduced like an elite hitman, wearing an expensive suit, driving an expensive car, getting a call from a mysterious client. He’s targeting an inaccessible rich lady (Stephanie Jacobsen) but he knows exactly how to get to her: go into an old church where she’s watching the cage fights, buy his way into a spontaneous match against the local champion, force that guy to tap out but then snap one of his bones anyway so that naturally she’ll take him home for sex and get away from her bodyguards (including Philip Rhee from the BEST OF THE BEST movies) so he can paralyze her and cut off all her fingers and steal her laptop.

Fox looks like a total weirdo with shaved head, chiseled muscles but disgustingly skinny, veins popping up all over the place. I don’t know if I can quite call what he’s doing mega-acting, because I would like to see more yelling. But he is definitely pretty over-the-top with his eye-bugging and stuff. Throughout the movie he winces and twitches orgasmically (or like he’s having a seizure?) after killing somebody or thinking about it. In one scene he wears those stupid shoes that have toes on them (to be fair he first used them underwater). In another scene he’s stalking Alex Cross and he sits in his car drawing a portrait of him.

I’m not familiar with Perry from his movies or plays, but it’s still funny to see this giant man sawing off a shotgun, getting righteously chewed out by Cicely Tyson for going down a dark path and disappointing his children. (There’s also a funny scene where he sneaks up behind her in the kitchen, picks her up and shakes her like she’s a little kid.) He doesn’t have a writing or producing credit but I suspect he had some say in getting a surprising amount of family drama into the thing. For example there’s a pretty long, sincere scene about him talking to his daughter about (SPOILER) the death of her mother. That was interesting.

Man, there’s so much funny shit in this movie all I can really do to paint a picture is to give you some examples. The aforementioned wife-murder scene is comical in the amount of foreshadowing, they do everything but the “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” singalong. I mean, as soon as she’s pregnant you know she’s a goner, but the real kicker is when Cross and wife are having dinner at a restaurant, arguing about a job he wants to take. She says, “We’re going to work this out together. Together.” Practically looking into the camera. Then they toast on it, he says it’s bad luck to toast with water and she says that’s just a superstition and does it anyway. Next thing you know she’s flying through the air after getting hit by an apparently very powerful sniper’s bullet.

After her death Dr. Cross goes real dark. He punches out an innocent security guard when breaking into the police evidence locker to steal supplies. He has an amazing line to the killer: “Here’s another emotion for ya: it’s pleasure. The pleasure I’m gonna get when I watch your soul oozin’ out of your body you maggot.” (He calls people maggots a couple times, actually.)

Kane also loses his girl, but since she wasn’t pregnant he doesn’t get that upset that he starts calling people the m-word. In fact, I had to rewind to make sure it really was his girl that died, because he seems to get over it surprisingly quick. It seems like he’s more supporting Cross avenging his wife than personally avenging his own girlfriend.

Jean Reno has a small but important part. I think he’s basically in two scenes. In the first one he shakes Cross’s hand and starts apologizing about his 14 carot ring given to him by the king of Cambodia. In the other scene, not to give anything away but it turns out that a certain giant ring he told us all about for no apparent reason turns out to be significant. Also Reno has the goofiest exchange with Cross:

“Do you like nature, Dr. Cross?”

Human nature,” Cross says, smiling proudly.

You see? ‘Cause he’s fascinated by human thinking and behavior, so much so that he awkwardly brags about it when a weird guy with a giant ring says a non-sequitur to him that can set up a bad pun about it.

Cross is also awkward joking around with his sidekick Kane. There’s an amazing little bit where they comically fumble around with a bowl of severed fingers at a murder scene after they realize they can use them to get past a fingerprint scanner and snoop in the dead lady’s safe. Whatever kind of gallows humor they were trying for in the scene I don’t think they got it quite right. Also, I feel like there were several procedural and moral violations going on there.

But my absolute favorite thing in the movie is when Dr. Cross and team show up at a high security building and try to convince the guards that the rich guy they protect is about to be attacked. The guards don’t believe them until an alarm starts beeping… an alarm that means the water pressure is lowering on the lobby fountain. Why do they have such an alarm? Nobody knows. Has it ever beeped before? No. Cross asks them, and they say no. But it’s a good thing they have it because sure enough the killer is wearing scuba gear climbing through a water pipe to get to his target.

That lobby-fountain-water-pressure-alarm seems awfully convenient, like Adam West’s bottle of Bat Shark Repellant Spray. But I think this building’s security system was designed by a madman. Later the intended target pushes a button that brings down security doors, but then they can’t leave because the doors can only be opened from the outside. Uh, hey mister, I think your panic room doors were put in backwards.

If I wasn’t already in love with this movie I think the end credits would’ve sealed the deal. There we find an overly detailed rap account of the events of the film. The song is called “I, Alex Cross (Only God Can Judge Me)” by Trick Trick and Dina Rae Franks. A choice lyric:

“I don’t want no trouble, there’s a life inside my soul mate / Gotta stop this killer, those are LIVES that he tryin to take / Who’s to say today will be the day that I turn to hate / He’s on the phone starin at my wife, but I’m too late.”

See that? This Trick Trick guy is following in Morgan Freeman and Tyler Perry’s footsteps by portraying the character of Alex Cross, and just in that one part he explains that Cross’s wife is pregnant, the circumstances of her murder and the effect it will have on him.

In another part of the song he says, “Love is in the air but somewhere somebody love to hate.” Perry’s Dr. Cross tries (briefly) to profile the killer and figure out what makes him tick, but Trick Trick’s Dr. Cross gets down to brass tacks, he knows that this is just “somebody [who] love to hate.”

I was gonna tell everybody to be sure to stay through the credits, but then I discovered there’s a video for it on Youtube:

In 2004 when I self-published a book of movie reviews I had a chapter entirely dedicated to the films of Rob Cohen, because I figured no other book would ever have that, so it would be historic. I’m glad that he’s still doing his thing. He doesn’t have the chops of Renny Harlin but he has some of that lovably brazen stupidity. Since that book he’s added Jet Li and friendly yetis to the MUMMY series and made a notorious box office flop (STEALTH) that in its own brain-dead way actually dealt with the increasingly relevant topic of unmanned military vehicles. Meanwhile, his 2001 carsploitation movie THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS holds up really well and somehow spawned one of the longest running, most consistently entertaining movie series’ going today.

But he is a commercial filmatist and the box office hasn’t been that kind to him in recent years. This is actually him working on a pretty low budget, and I think that’s good for him. The cheaper it is the crazier he can get with it. Clearly the grown ups weren’t paying attention on this one, and I thank them for their negligence.

Now I’m looking forward to ALEX CROSS: STATE OF THE UNION starring Ice Cube.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 at 1:17 pm and is filed under Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

44 Responses to “Alex Cross”

  1. Vern – I didn’t notice you mentioning it, but originally Idris Elba was attached to the part but he got replaced with Perry apparently because the studio deemed Perry more “cpmmercial.” Considering how that movie flopped, perhaps even turned people away from this because of Perry….opps.

    You know not a good time for movies based off long running book series titled after the star character. ALEX CROSS flopped. JACK REACHER (a movie I quite enjoyed, an Eastwood/Seagal movie starring Cruise) didn’t do well in the states (foreign grosses TBA), and this Christmas we’ve got Branagh’s JACK RYAN movie starring Captain Kirk and Ms. Skeletor, and I wonder if Paramount is sweating balls over that one.

    I might rent this someday.

    Or wait for TV. Whatever comes first.

  2. It’s strange, the movies that some actors will go-for-broke on. You’d think Matthew Fox really thought “Picasso” was an important character worthy of a lot of time and consideration from the way he freakishly transformed his body. Reminds me of Jared Leto and “Chapter 27,” a movie/role that was reviled and ended up giving the poor guy gout from the rapid weight gain.

  3. JACK REACHER has actually done three times its budget by now. Not sure why the Studios are holding out on a sequel. REACHER only cost $60 Million i believe.

  4. Felix – So says the studio, and well wouldn’t be the first time they fibbed about the final price tag. Anyway I wouldn’t mind sequels, but I think it’ll have to do well overseas to get it because apparently they did say domestically only it didn’t do enough to warrant one.

    But Cruise does well overseas. Hell KNIGHT & DAY was Fox’s biggest hit the year it came out and it “flopped” in the states, making more than JACK REACHER has. Go figure.

  5. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I’d rather see a sequel to Jack Reacher than Knight and Day.

    One of the most under-recognized aspects of Jack Reacher was the nighttime chase scene…I don’t know if they digitally replaced his face or if Cruise was actually doing all that driving, but there were a startling number of shots where Reacher is doing all kinds of crazy shit with his muscle car and no stuntmen were evident.

  6. Let me react to your post point at a time.

    Patrick – (1) That goes without saying.

    (2) It could be a proped-up car where the stunt driver (blocked from sight) was driving from the backseat, which DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE did. Or hell maybe Cruise did his own driving. We remember that insane shit he did for GHOST PROTOCOL, which I still have trouble believing he did.

    I was impressed by that car chase. My only minus is that the trailer spoiled the payoff end to it.

  7. That music video pretty much makes the entire movie redundant.

  8. I thought it was more bad-bad than good-bad.

    There are a bunch of dumb parts you can make fun of, though. Ed Burns forgetting that the love of his life was tortured to death is one of them. The FUCK YEAH THAT’S RIGHT TYLER PERRY CAN DO ACTION sequence at the beginning is another. It’s shots of Tyler Perry huffing and puffing his way through a dark tunnel mixed with shots of his more athletic double.

    But I think my favorite dumb thing is Perry smashing his SUV into the first Cadillac that comes out of a parking garage. Thank God crazy Matt Fox was in it!

  9. This review makes me mad at myself for not seeing this in theaters. I was contemplating it because it looked really funny.

    Patrick N – McQuarrie says Cruise did all his own driving in that sequence. Either way it’s pretty killer.

  10. I need to see this movie immediately.

  11. James Patterson comes out with a new book every week

  12. Is it even possible for Matthew Fox and Edward Burns to be in the same movie? If they touch do they disappear like in Time Cop?

  13. Sternshein— Fox=Burns after a 3-day whiskey binge. Burns=Fox after an extreme makeover. I kinda wondered about that myself. Maybe they were both cast just in case Cohen wanted them to swap roles.

    Much as I would’ve preferred that Fox reel it in quite a bit, it’s a shame he didn’t have a Just How Badass Is He? sequence (surely those “Geico cavemen” police computer nerds could’ve scared up some dossier about him). I mean, it’s kind of explained that he’s a merc, but more info.woulda been nice.

    This was the first time I’ve seen Tyler Perry playing a man. He should stick to playing Madea.

  14. This movie was completely ridiculous, as was Jack Reacher btw. I am familiar with the Alex Cross character and have read a few of the books. They are basically good pulp fiction detective novels where Cross almost always gets his man. They would absolutely make good movies in the hands of a competent director. Unfortunately we get Rob”Stealth”Cohen who shouldn’t be let anywhere near a movie that needs even the smallest amount of tension.This guy has made a couple of enjoyable trashy action movies but tension is not his deal.

    I just don’t understand why Hollywood refuses to cast someone who even remotely resembles the character as described in the book. Cross is described as being something like 6’4″ with a good athletic build and having carmel skin and he’s only in his early 40’s. How’s the fuck does that sound like Tyler Perry or Morgan Freeman? He also has a 6’6″ black partner( yep, Ed Burns fits that description well). I’ve seen many movies where the actor didn’t really fit the description of a character as written. It seems to me you could at least get an actor who fits three essence of the character. Tyler Perry was the least believable actor possible for this role. Edris Elba would have been great for this, the only problem is it would have made no difference because the director was all wrong regardless. This movie was exactly like Vern described it. I felt like I was watching one of those parodies you see on some sketch comedy show. Terrible movie in every way.

  15. Among the best things I’ve seen from SNL in a long time, and one of Jamie Foxx’s best performances (check the eyes):

    http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/tyler-perry-presents-alex-cross/n30735/

  16. The Original... Paul

    February 6th, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Chitown – I’ve always thought that Cross was so much a match for Denzel, he might’ve been written with him in mind.

    Instead we got Morgan Freeman. I won’t judge Tyler Perry since I haven’t seen his performance (although it doesn’t sound like many people are too positive on it) but Morgan Freeman? Terrible casting right there.

  17. Perry’s not bad in his niche. I liked Why Did I get Married (he played a man).

    His niche is not carrying a pump-action.

  18. Did anyone find Perry credible as a badass in this? Haven’t seen, just curious

  19. I believe in some of the books they actually say that Cross looks like Denzel. Perry is more age-appropriate I guess, but the general public seem to either not know or care that Denzel is pushing 60 (or at the very least he has sex with characters in their 20s/30s in FLIGHT without anyone blinking), so I suspect the main reason he wouldn’t have been considered for this reboot would be the old moolah

  20. The books also refer to him as looking like a “young Mohammad Ali”. Yeah, I’ve read some James Patterson novels… You wanna make somethin’ of it?

  21. caruso_stalker217

    February 7th, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Seeing as James Patterson’s novels are laughably bad, it seems this is a very faithful adaptation.

  22. The Alex Cross books are not high art, but they are pretty good as pulp fiction and nothing more. This wasn’t even close to anything faithful and Tyler Perry is the last person on earth who should have been playing the role. CrustaceanHate is right about the young Muhammad Ali description. That immediately brings to mind Will Smith but he would have only done this early in his career before he had Oscar nominations and the Men in Black franchise to hang his hat on. Idris Elba would have at least brought some grit to it and he’s basically already playing Alex Cross on Luther. He’s great on that show and he needs a role like that in America. The only other actor I could think of would Chiwetel Ejiofor. Both of these actors need a signature role and Alex Cross would fit either like a glove.

  23. The Original... Paul

    February 8th, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    The Alex Cross books are not written to stimulate the mind, ’tis true. But they’re kinetic and fast-paced and all the chapters are about two paragraphs long (which is kinda annoying). They’re easily digestible and not particularly memorable. They’re the fast food of crime literature.

  24. I read a couple of Patterson’s books back in the mid-nineties when I still hadn’t quite figured out what my tastes were. I’ve since learned to stay away from anything with the words “forensics,” “psychologist,” “lawyer,” or “insider” in the plot description. There’s gonna be way too many dudes in suits with high-powered connections to other dudes in suits, everybody always has a nice house out in the suburbs and a chestnut-haired wife who’s still as beautiful as the day they met, and sooner or later there will be a paragraph describing what wine they’re drinking. Not hard-boiled at all, in other words.

  25. The Original... Paul

    February 9th, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Majestyk:

    “I’ve since learned to stay away from anything with the words “forensics,” “psychologist,” “lawyer,” or “insider” in the plot description.”

    That one gave me a giggle. I’m a huge crime fiction fan. You just described about eighty percent of my library!

  26. The Original... Paul

    February 9th, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    And SO TRUE about the “chestnut-haired wife” bit. Has anybody ever actually heard a woman described as “chestnut-haired” in real life?

  27. It sounds like you gravitate more toward the Grisham/Clancy thriller end of the crime fiction spectrum, Paul. I like to stay with the more low to the ground and rough and tumble old school hard-boiled private eye authors. Vachss, Lee Burke, Lehane, Rucka, those kinds of guys. I generally don’t like to read about heroes who are too far above my pay grade. The only real “airport novels” I read are the Reacher books, and he’s just a private citizen with a propensity for righteous violence, not a former FBI agent turned D.A. with a doctorate in forensic archaeology or whoever the hell they’re writing books about these days.

  28. Never have read an ALEX CROSS novel. Now that I’ve heard the comprehensive Trick-Trick song “I, Alex Cross (Only God Can Judge Me)” featuring Dina Rae, obviously I don’t have to.

    Seems like almost every time I start to reach for an “easy” or “digestible” read in the crime fiction genre (which I’m actually jealous of & impressed by, because I’m not capable of writing such literature), I get pulled into something else from my long list of unread “serious” “critically acclaimed” books instead; there’s always 3 or 4 of those floating in my iPhone reader app, emanating their siren song, shaming me for not having yet sped-read my way into keeping up with the elitist literary Joneses featured in The New Yorker and such.

    But there’s some hard-boiledness to be found in those “respectable” books, too. For example, there’s a touch of Seagalogical “how badass is he” in one of the most-awarded, best-reviewed books of our lives, WOLF HALL:

    ***“Lock [Thomas] Cromwell in a deep dungeon in the morning,” says Thomas More, “and when you come back that night he’ll be sitting on a plush cushion eating larks’ tongues, and all the jailers will owe him money.”***

    (compare, of course, to:
    ***“You could drop this guy off at the Arctic Circle wearing a pair of bikini underwear, without his toothbrush, and tomorrow afternoon he’s going to show up at your pool side with a million dollar smile and fist full of pesos.”***
    Did 2 time Man Booker Prize Winner Hilary Mantel plagiarize ON DEADLY GROUND?!?)

  29. I just survived a massive car crash today, and I’m still standing! My car is fucked, but I’m still standing, motherfuckers!

    Sorry, I’m enjoying my post-accident euphoria. Had to share.

    Anyway, I watched Alex Cross a while ago. Yeah, it’s quite shit, but Fox gave it his best and Madea is funnier than usual. Jack Reacher is a much better movie-based-on-a-popular-literary-series-with-the-protagonist’s-name-as-the-title. Your turn, Jack Ryan.

  30. Congratulations on not dying, Knox!

  31. Thanks, Majestyk. Between dying and not dying, I prefer the latter. Dying would have been boring and could have potentially destroyed my social life. So I think I made the right choice.

    Also, next time I watch a movie with Bad Boys 2 style car crashes, I can tell the chick next to me how realistic it all looks.

  32. Look at these invincible motherfuckers. No vehicle collision or NYC snowstorm can stop y’all.
    Which is bad news for me b/c I’m going to Majestyk’s city in a few days and to Knox’s continent next month. Death is gonna be hungry; I better start the appeasement prayers to my bust of Tony Todd now.

  33. You’re coming to Africa, Mouth? Better start scoping out some virgins to sacrifice to Mr. Todd, then. Africa always costs extra.

  34. Before Christmas, I bought an ultra-cheap three pack of Alex Cross novels, including CROSS, the novel this movie* is based on. I started reading MARY, MARY, but gave up pretty quickly, because it was awful. This review inspired me to pick it up again, and I wouldn’t say I think it’s not awful, but I think I’m already addicted to this Patterson shit, it’s so easy to read! Anyone know what I’m talking about? Paul?

    *Which I’ve yet to see, and almost certainly wont until it hits DVD in the UK in May

  35. caruso_stalker217

    February 13th, 2013 at 2:47 am

    Pacman: Patterson books are indeed easy, especially if there’s nothing else around to read. They are good airport books. If you want to read some real good pieces of shit, check out Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club books. The first book, 1st To Die, is so awful it’s amazing. The first line of dialogue in the book, I shit you not, is “Goddamn you, God!”

  36. caruso_stalker217

    February 13th, 2013 at 2:47 am

    Pacman: Patterson books are indeed easy, especially if there’s nothing else around to read. They are good airport books. If you want to read some real good pieces of shit, check out Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club books. The first book, 1st To Die, is so awful it’s amazing. The first line of dialogue in the book, I shit you not, is “Goddamn you, God!”

  37. Eventually Patterson dropped the titling gimmick for the Alex Cross books because he ran out of nursery rhymes, so for the Women’s Murder Club he moved onto numbers, essentially giving him scope for an infinite number of books (eg “11,768 Ways to Die”). See also Sue Grafton’s murder-mystery series, “Z is for Fuck, I’ve Run Out of Letters”

  38. The original Paul

    February 15th, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Crustacean – for some reason “straight” mystery writers and crime novelists are addicted to names based on nursery rhymes, crossword puzzles, letter schemes and the like. That and Shakespeare (if you made a list of every crime novel that used a straight in-context Shakespeare quote as its title, you’d have a very very very long list).

  39. Hahaha I just watched this on Saturday – what a hoot!

    It is just so bizarre. I mean, in the scene where he’s trying to comfort his daughter I was almost pissing myself laughing, just because of the fixation with the piano.

    I also loved the sheer number of scenes that had pauses between lines of dialogue that went on for several beats too long. It’s like either A) They were trying to make lines with no merit seem portentous, or B) They were leaving room for audience members to yell out advice or commentary. Either way, at home, made no sense whatsoever, and was hilarious.

    It was a horribly bad film, that I really enjoyed watching.

  40. I think I had a grin on my face during the entirety of this movie – I’m actually having trouble naming my favorite part, and I haven’t said that about a movie in a long time (I’d probably go for Fox’s hilarious scenery-chewing, or Perry’s amazing delivery of the “maggot” line).

    It’s not exactly “so bad it’s good” but there’s a sheer disregard for logic and taste that you just have to sit there and admire the insanity. This is a movie where Cross has almost superhero-level powers of deduction but can’t tell his wife is pregnant even after finding her sonogram on their home printer “Wait this sonogram on our printer is yours???” This is a movie where all evidence points to Rachel Nichols being captured and held hostage, but I guess they assume she’s dead as they don’t bother looking for her and never mention her again. This is a movie where it’s not clear if their hardass boss John C. McGinley dies or not. This movie uses the Wilhelm scream during a big dramatic moment, if that’s any indication of the madness involved.

    The previous Freeman vehicles were pretty mediocre, but this one seemed less like the intended Casino Royale reboot and more like a spiritual sequel to the Bruce Willis Jackal remake. Fox’s ridiculously convoluted assassination schemes were hilarious – we need more stuff like that in movies. I’m actually a little bit sad that this bombed, since more sequels in this vein would be like a gift that keeps giving.

  41. neal- you made me want to see this movie. I forgot it actually existed. It slipped under my radar like the Russian invasion forces and their rubberrafts slipped under Americas radar in INVASION U.S.A. It really sounds like enjoyably goofy schlock.

  42. Yeah, thanks a lot neal2zod, now I gotta see this. I also blame David Fincher. Perry had a surprisingly strong presence in GONE GIRL.

  43. I was actually pretty disappointed in the level of retardedness in this one. I was hoping for a train wreck but it lacked that special something. Not so much so-bad-it’s-good as so-bad-it’s-just-not-good. It’s not really fit to share shelf space with truly, sublimely ridiculous misfires like I KNOW WHO KILLED ME and THE NUMBER 23.

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