Take him out of the dress, and the guy’s got nothing.
The year’s most ill-at-ease action hero, Tyler Perry momentarily pauses from his preposterously prolific and insanely lucrative Madea drag flicks to make a bid for dull, mainstream stardom with Alex Cross, an unasked-for reboot of the only slightly successful early-aughts Morgan Freeman franchise based on a metric shit-ton of books by James Patterson.
Cross is a brilliant detective. Not that we ever see him doing any actual detective work, but everybody else in the film helpfully talks about nothing else besides what a brilliant detective Alex Cross is. Perry, looking like a confused tree-trunk and lowering his voice to a murmur, stands around aimlessly at grisly crime scenes muttering vague hypotheses, while longtime partner Edward Burns slaps him on the back and drops anvils of exposition: “Hey—we grew up together, remember?”
Directed with staggering incompetence by Fast and the Furious and XXX auteur Rob Cohen, Alex Cross is at times breathtakingly nonsensical. There’s a shirtless psycho calling himself The Butcher Of Sligo (played by Matthew Fox, with 0-percent body fat) hired to assassinate a Detroit real estate developer (played by Jean Reno, with 100-percent body fat). Because this movie is stupid, the killer leaves clues for Cross in charcoal sketches, and eventually a whole lot of people are horribly mutilated while the camera awkwardly cuts away to preserve the PG-13 rating.
Keyed to roughly the same excitement level as Perry’s monotone, Alex Cross begins as the usual over-familiar mélange of forensic evidence and titillating torture porn that reminds me why I don’t watch network television procedurals. After a needlessly grim double murder in the second hour, it takes a turn for dopey vigilantism, leading the audience to wonder why one major character’s death is lavishly mourned while the other doesn’t even get a funeral and is never mentioned again.
Through it all, Fox’s bug-eyed crazy routine makes an inadvertently hilarious foil for Perry’s affectless somnambulism. What kind of movie hell is this where Edward Burns gives the least terrible performance?