Fan alert. Tyler Perry's Alex Cross isn't close to James Patterson's Alex Cross.
Worse, the plot of Alex Cross, loosely based on Patterson's novel, Cross, isn't close to that work either.
Very little being consistent with Patterson's vision is about all that's consistent with the production.
Perry, two screenwriters -- Marc Ross of Along Came a Spider and newcomer Kenny Williamson -- and director Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious, xXx) have reinvented Dr. Cross, some of his life and history, and then planted him, his wife, family, mom and best friend in a short, intense and very poorly done thriller.
Mom? Patterson's character is Cross' grandmother. Heavy sigh. Minor detail and they're not important, I guess. The name of the best friend who he's known since grade school is changed, too. It's Tommy Kane, a non-Patterson name. It should be John Sampson.
Again. A minor complaint. A much bigger complaint is the movie.
An unnamed psychopath done by Matthew Fox (TV's Lost) enters an ultimate fighter match, wastes his opponent and picks up an Asian babe sitting in the front row. Wealthy and beautiful, she takes him home for sex. He tortures and murders her and just murders her three macho body guards. They fall as easily as he dispatched the fighter.
His purpose for the fight was to meet her, steal her computer and the financial information its hard drive contains. She is connected to foreign developers wanting to revamp downtown Detroit. That's where Perry, Cohen and writers have Cross living and not Washington D.C. where Patterson's novels plant him.
Another unnecessary change.
The killer is out to bring the developers down. Cross and Kane need to find out why. The investigation gets them crossways with the psycho, and he kills Cross' wife and Kane's girlfriend. Cross vows to get even.
Revenge becomes the dish served cold. In this case, non-entertaining cold.
Perry's talent is questionable. He's an actor of limited skills whose success comes from writing, directing and starring in the Madea movie series. Perry only screened one of the Madea movies for local critics. It wasn't very good, and he wasn't very good in it -- which may explain why we didn't get to see the others.
While I love reviewing films and always want to inform readers -- regular and non -- about my take on all movies, not having to sit through all of the Madea movies is probably a blessing.
Now, Perry is stepping into the shoes of a character done brilliantly by the iconic Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. While I don't envy any actor attempting to play a young Alex Cross and competing with Morgan's long shadow, Perry isn't someone I would have picked.
Doing a man, a woman or a legendary detective, Perry just isn't a very good actor. That said, not all of Perry's problems with Alex Cross come from his insufficient skills.
Cohen's direction and the writing are awful. Many of the scenes -- especially the early ones -- have a staged feel. You see actors delivering lines and not real people engaged in the business of life.
The action sequences are also lame. That is surprising considering Cohen's special effects wizardry with the original Fast and Furious and his work with Vin Diesel in xXx.
There is -- however -- one plus. Fox is an exceptional villain. A gaunt, quite buff Fox is terrific as the twisted psycho and gives the movie its only energy. I'd love to see him do it again -- only in a better project.
Bottom line, Alex Cross is not a film you'll want to target and put in your weekend movie crosshairs. But maybe I'm being too cross about Alex Cross and Perry's tepid talents.
What do you think?
Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars
Director: Rob Cohen
Stars: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Carmen Ejogo
Rated PG for mature themes. It opens Friday, Nov. 5 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.