Director: Rob Cohen; Screenwriters: Marc Moss, Kerry Williamson; Starring: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Rachel Nichols, Jean Reno, Giancarlo Esposito; Running time: 101 mins; Certificate: 15
It doesn't take the deductive skills of forensic psychologist copper Alex Cross to figure out why this movie wasn't screened for the press in the UK. It's terrible. Even Allo Allo's Officer Crabtree represents a more credible depiction of law enforcement.
Previously portrayed by Morgan Freeman in Kiss The Girls and Along Came A Spider, Alex Cross is the third and worst cinematic incarnation of James Patterson's popular character. A combination of tonally inappropriate direction and a script that's consistently contrived and unengaging means lead actors Tyler Perry and Matthew Fox have little chance to shine in their respective roles as Cross and his psychotic nemesis Picasso.
The two figures are drawn into a lethal battle after Picasso mercilessly tortures and kills a young businesswoman and turns his attention to Cross's family when the detective moves close to foiling his plan. But what is Picasso's purpose and end game? It's hard to care given the woeful execution, but at least Jean 'Leon' Reno and Giancarlo 'Gus Fring' Esposito turn up to add some pop cultural curiosity value.
The early plot exposition isn't that important for the viewer, as just 20 minutes in we're given flashbacks to events we have already witnessed because the filmmakers appear to view the audience with contempt and as incapable of paying attention. Awkward.
Perhaps the nadir arrives when the movie's entire climax is triggered by Picasso pulling out of a car park while driving away from a crime scene… and the car that smashes into him just happens to be driven at high speed by Alex Cross! What are the chances?
Once you've extracted your sullen face from the palms of your hands, you're then confronted by the tired cliché of one character holding onto the hand of another as they dangle from a great height. Yawn.
Picking the director of The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor and The Fast And The Furious to handle this subject matter certainly wasn't a wise move. Scenes depicting any significant amount of motion, such as a cage fight contested by Picasso, are filmed with dizzying Shakycam™ and thus rendered unwatchable, alongside various bursts of visual effects that are presumably an attempt to represent his psychosis.
There is also a creepy fetishisation surrounding Matthew Fox's brawny body, with the camera dwelling on his ripped upper body and tracking along his veins. To his credit, Fox exudes unhinged menace and displays his versatility with a hugely different role to the dependable Jack on Lost.
Tyler Perry has proved himself to be effortlessly amiable in other movie roles, but makes little impact as Alex Cross. If anyone dares to devise a drinking game for this clanger, millilitres must be imbibed every time another character makes a remark about what a brilliant mastermind Cross is.
If you crave a genial crime thriller about a forensic psychologist then go and buy a boxset of Cracker. Alex Cross is simply an inexcusable misfire.
'Alex Cross' in pictures: