How ridiculously bad is Alex Cross? Counting the ways is too easy (and you’d run out of fingers, which would only be fitting considering how the first victim in this clich├ęd mess meets her end.)

Based (very loosely) on the novel Cross by James Patterson, it features Tyler Perry (sans Madea makeup and padding) as the super-detective first brought to the big screen by Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Here Cross is tracking down a killer nicknamed Picasso (Matthew Fox), a muscular American Psycho wannabe who’s bumping people off for no apparent reason in Detroit.

The script by Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson is so riddled with ineptitude you may find it hard not to laugh throughout. At the very least, the eye-rolling will commence shortly after the opening scene, which serves no purpose other than letting us know Cross is a cop who can catch people. Packed with hackneyed lines like “I’m gonna get you, you son of a bitch” and “So far we got bupkus on this guy”, Cross plays more like a bad, direct-to-DVD police thriller (without the thrill) than something worthy of your time, much less your money.

Perry, quite frankly, should stick with what he knows. When he has the benefit of hiding behind a rubber fat suit and a wig as Madea, he can actually carry a movie. Here he just seems so woefully out of place that you’ll wonder what the producers were thinking when they cast him.

The same goes for Edward Burns as Cross’s partner. Sure he’s cute and charming in his Long Island movies, but drop him onto the mean streets of Detroit (actually, Cross was filmed in Cleveland), and you only highlight his complete inability to deliver a line convincingly.

Fox, who has apparently been hitting the weight room, and Jean Reno, who obviously hasn’t, seem to be the only people here who know how to, well, act… other than the always-great Giancarlo Esposito. But he’s so hideously wasted in Cross that it should be considered a capital offense.

Give director Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious) some credit; he tries his damndest to keep the ship above water. The pacing is solid, the photography is at least interesting, and the finale is almost enough to leave you with a not entirely unpleasant taste in your mouth.

But then we’re left with an inane, wrap-up-a-two-hour-movie-in-thirty-silly-seconds epilogue, and we’re all reminded exactly what Alex Cross is worth.


1/5 stars