Based on the character created by James Patterson and poularized by Morgan Freeman in KissThe Girls and Along Came a Spider, Tyler Perry takes over as Dr. Alex Cross, a homicide detective/psychologist with the Detroit Police Department. Cross meets his match in a serial killer (Matthew Fox). The two face off in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, but when the mission gets personal, Cross is pushed to the edge of his moral and psychological limits in this taut and exciting action thriller.
Having cornered the market on his signature brand of inspirational comedy, Tyler Perry makes a bid for action-movie supremacy with this grisly adaptation of author James Patterson's most popular character. Loosely based on the 12th novel in the series (2007's Cross), the plot follows the early days of the title character, a genius police detective/psychologist trying to clean up the mean streets of Detroit while keeping his family out of the line of fire. As he mulls over accepting a job with the FBI, he and his team are forced to match wits with a psychotic contract killer (Matthew Fox), who displays a disturbing commitment towards seeing his job through. Director Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious, XXX) knows this turf well, delivering an effective mix of creeping thriller sequences and go-for-broke action scenes. (Parents should be warned that the crime scenes glimpsed here push the PG-13 rating to the urpy limits and beyond.) Faced with the unenviable task of following in the footsteps of Morgan Freeman (who played the character in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider), Perry does a credible job in portraying both the tender and vengeful aspects of his character, even if the script often falls into the trap of having other characters exclaiming how brilliant Cross is, rather than letting the viewers see the deductive process for themselves. Based on his first attempt, any future entries in the franchise appear to be in good hands. Ultimately, however, the other elements of Alex Cross pale in comparison to Fox, who goes all out--and then some--in giving the audience someone to hiss at. He's shorn down to what appears to be a negative body-fat ratio, and occasionally literally froths at the mouth--and his dedication to creating a villain for the ages quickly overpowers the material. Once this freaky beanpole starts chewing the scenery, you'll be glad that the filmmakers decided against shooting in 3-D. --Andrew Wright