Movie review: Alex Cross

By Columbus Alive
From the October 18, 2012 edition

Amazingly, “Alex Cross” managed to be exactly as bad as I expected it to be and even worse at the same time.

It has a pedigree that sounds kind of bad on paper and is really bad on screen. That’s almost impressive.

It’s a reboot of the character from a series of James Patterson novels first played by Morgan Freeman in “Kiss the Girls” and “Along Came a Spider.”

Freeman’s best work? Not even close. But stepping into his shoes is Tyler Perry, aiming to branch out from his own ubiquitous film career. Tyler Perry, you are no Morgan Freeman.

Alex Cross (Perry) is a homicide detective and psychiatrist (double major!) working in Detroit. He’s got a beautiful wife and two kids — with a third on the way — which means things are about to get terrible for him.

Cross locks horns with a ruthless professional killer (Matthew Fox), and the case takes a turn for the personal … yadda, yadda, yadda.

The first strike against “Cross” comes in the casting. The lead role was originally going to go to Idris Elba. As in “Stringer” Bell on “The Wire.” As in, awesome.

For Elba to be replaced by Perry — the hyper-productive producer-director made famous for his cross-dressed Madea — is a pretty good barometer for things. Perry tries (and fails) to expand beyond his wheelhouse.

But he’s not the most overreaching actor in the film. That title goes to Fox. He’s still trying to break out of the shadow of Jack Shephard of “Lost” — and this won’t do it. He tries to channel all manner of onscreen psychopaths. The results are usually more laughable than scary.

Director Rob Cohen can’t find a cop movie cliché he doesn’t like. The biggest mystery is why this isn’t a TV movie of the week.