Actor Tyler Perry closets his Madea alter ego to play a gritty police detective on the hunt for a psychotic killer in the action thriller Alex Cross.
Taking license with James Patterson’s literary protagonist from the Alex Cross book series, the script is set in Detroit rather than a Southeast Washington D.C. neighborhood. Alex and his partner Tommy Kane (Edward Burns) team up with Monica Ashe (Rachel Nicholas) in a hunt for the serial killer Picasso (played by an emaciate-looking Matthew Fox, the former Lost actor). The twitching assassin takes a perverted pleasure in inflicting pain before slowly torturing his victims to death.
But his intended targets aren’t the only bodies he leaves in his wake. He trains his sight on anyone who happens to get in his way. When Alex discovers a clue to Picasso’s next subject in a sketched charcoal drawing left at the crime scene, he, Tommy and Monica rush to the office of international businessman Erich Nunemacher (Werner Daehn). Although they foil the murder plot, the trio of agents expose themselves to the murderous psychopath who diverts his attention from his hit list long enough to terrorize the officers and their families.
This dark and disturbing drama portrays gruesome modes of torture, point blank shootings, large-scale explosions and frequent brutal fistfights that result in death or at the very least bloody wounds. While other content is scaled back slightly to keep this violent film from garnering an R-rating, on-screen depictions of sexual activity, sexual dialogue and innuendo, other crude language and drug references still make their way into the production.
Seemingly set up in hopes of being the next big film franchise, the story spends plenty of time introducing characters and establishing a reason for Alex to put aside his badge when he feels some police brutality is in order. But unfortunately, despite being set in the car capital of America, this script clunks along like a misfiring Rambler. Full of minor but blatant inconsistencies (like a germ phobic who shakes hands and lands a peck on a woman’s cheek), the movie wastes too many scenes on sensational drama rather than building believable suspense.
In his third film appearance (played previously by Morgan Freeman in the 1997 film Kiss the Girls and the 2001 movie Along Came a Spider), Alex Cross packs too much punch and firepower to appeal to family viewers, especially those who want to dodge depictions of abusive and senseless violence.