Dec 5 2012 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Ever since I read my mum’s copy of James Patterson’s Along Came a Spider in my teens, I’ve been hooked on the stories of hardened detective Alex Cross.
I always felt the character was ripe for cinematic outings but previous big-screen efforts Kiss the Girls and the aforementioned Along Came a Spider, which starred Morgan Freeman as Cross, were decent at best.
There was definitely room for a fresh take on Cross to appease fans of the books and cinema audiences alike.
But, sadly, director Rob Cohen’s Alex Cross doesn’t fit the bill.
Based very loosely on Patterson’s novel Cross, it stars Tyler Perry as our titular hero who comes up against ferocious serial killer Picasso (Matthew Fox).
Cohen is best known for high-octane fare (xXx and The Fast and the Furious), which beggars the question why his latest movie is so slow and dull?
Really, it’s a paint-by-numbers thriller— and I use that term loosely — where scenes drag, particularly in a staggeringly low key first 45 minutes.
Along Came a Spider screenwriter Marc Moss and debutant Kerry Williamson team up on the screenplay.
They deliver the closest on-screen interpretation yet of Cross’ family life, although why they felt the need to replace his faithful companion Sampson from the books with Edward Burns’ underdeveloped character Tommy Kane, I still can’t figure out .
What doesn’t help Cohen is his choice of lead star. Perry is barely known over here and in the States is only famous for his comedic roles.
Despite his comedic background, he is a very bland Alex Cross. Seriously, he plays it so low key that sometimes you wonder if he’s awake.
Perry is totally wrong for the role and the Sherlock Holmes-like deductions Cross is able to make are unrealistic, and out of character with how he’s portrayed in the novels.
Fox’s tattooed skinhead puts in the only display to rise above mediocrity, but even he’s no John Doe (Seven), Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs) or Keyser Soze (The Usual Suspects).
Scrubs star John C McGinley’s police captain is the worst of a bad bunch as he’s forced to spout some woeful ‘direlogue’.
Things start to kick in a little bit just shy of the hour mark when Picasso ups the ante by making things more personal, finally adding some badly needed tension.
But this is the cue for the previously sedate Cross to come off all John McClane (complete with vest shot) as he seeks revenge (“I will meet his soul at the gates of hell”).
A dizzying fight scene follows before a limp climax shows a vindictive side to Cross that, again, is not in keeping with what we’ve seen before or read on the page.
Sadly the wait still goes on for a great Alex Cross movie.
And if Perry continues to wield the shield (hinted at with an open ending and decent U.S box office takings) it could be a long time coming.