Alex Cross Review
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Some popular novels translate remarkably well to the big screen. Adaptations of books like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, and The Hunger Games have been hits with critics and audiences alike. Others, however, seem to lose something in the translation—like bestselling author James Patterson’s latest big-screen adaptation, Alex Cross.

Tyler Perry stars in the title role, taking over for Morgan Freeman, who played Cross in 1997’s Kiss the Girls and 2001’s Along Came a Spider. After the celebrated Detroit detective and his team are called to the scene of a gruesome multiple homicide, they set out on a frantic chase for a crazed killer who seems determined to take down the leaders of a company that’s trying to revitalize the city.

Cross handles the situation with his usual calm and composed intellect, taking the time to study the case and profile the killer. But then the killer sets his sights on Cross, and the case turns personal.

James Patterson’s bestsellers are the literary equivalent of the summer blockbuster; they’re not exactly groundbreaking or thought-provoking, but they’re highly entertaining nonetheless. For that reason, they seem like the obvious choice for the big screen. Unfortunately, though, something (actually a whole lot of somethings) went horribly wrong in the process of turning Patterson’s novel, Cross, into an action movie.

Fans of Patterson’s Cross novels will notice some glaring problems right away—like the fact that the movie takes some pretty serious liberties with the characters and their stories. For instance, Cross’s beloved Washington, D.C., has been replaced by Detroit, while his lifelong friend, John Sampson, has been traded in for wise-cracking sidekick Tommy Kane (Edward Burns).

Then there’s the cast. Whether it’s a jittery Matthew Fox as the deranged killer or John C. McGinley as the strangely flippant chief of police, the performances all seem awkward and unnatural—not to mention totally over-the-top. Still, none are worse than Perry, who doesn’t seem comfortable in any one of his character’s multiple personalities—whether it’s the thoughtful shrink or the determined detective. My guess is that he originally auditioned for the role of Cross’s ball-busting Nana Mama—but, after losing the role to Cicely Tyson, he agreed to play a male character instead.

Cross, meanwhile, comes off as a joke—some kind of super-genius who can figure out your blood type, your pet’s name, and your favorite pizza toppings just by looking at you. But Perry clearly isn’t in on the joke—and he (like most of his cast mates) takes the role much too seriously. Perhaps, if the role had been played by a Nicolas Cage-type of actor, the movie could have been a wild, wacky romp—but, with Perry in the lead, it’s just a mess.

In the end, Alex Cross isn’t nearly as suspenseful or as dramatic as it would like you to believe. In fact, with its painful overacting and its laughable effects, it feels more like a cheesy made-for-TV movie than a big-budget action movie. So, even if you’re a fan of Patterson’s novels, feel free to wait until it starts airing on TBS, following back-to-back episodes of Perry’s House of Payne.

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