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Film review: ALEX CROSS, from Built For Speed

Alex Cross, the character originally played by Morgan Freeman in Kiss The Girls (1997) and Along Came A Spider (2001) now appears in a self-titled film starring Tyler Perry who’s best known at least in the US for his feisty drag character Madea. This film arrived with dire warnings that it was one of the turkeys of the year and while it has numerous plot holes, strange inconsistencies and occasional bizarre acting it wasn’t the almighty disaster and unintentional comic masterpiece for which I had hoped.

In this film, forensic psychologist Alex Cross and his partner Tommy (Ed Burns) are assigned to investigate a series of murders that seem to be part of a plan to kill a wealthy French developer Leon (Jean Reno).  The investigation sees Cross matching wits with a sadistic assassin played by a skinny, sinewy, bald-headed Matthew Fox who looks like Chris Judd and actually applies a chicken wing tackle at one point.

The large and imposing Perry conveys strength and intelligence as Cross but lacks the riveting, magisterial presence of Morgan Freeman.  Fox is something of a revelation, though, playing against type as a weird looking and genuinely sinister villain.  He alone creates any tension and sense of threat that exists in this film.

Some of the supporting performances, however, are embarrassingly bad: Jean Reno seems to be channelling his character from the catastrophic Couples Retreat while some of his underlings ham it up appallingly.  Cicely Tyson as Cross’s mum and Scrubs John C McGinley as a fellow cop are also strangely awkward and hammy.

While the film attempts to be a police procedural and action film it doesn’t succeed as either.  The crime doesn’t unravel in a particularly intriguing way and the action scenes are often implausible and silly. This movie also contains one of the most badly filmed fight scenes in cinema history; if you thought the wobble cam was out of control during the fights in Taken 2, wait until you see this film, it looks like the camera man was on a pogo stick. This film also has one of the most unconvincing CGI explosions in recent memory; in fact 1970’s Dr Who episodes had more believable effects than this.

Weirdest of all though is the way the film lets important plot threads dangle without proper resolution.  At one point a vital character dies and no one, including the character’s lover, seems remotely affected.

While this is not the complete disaster some have claimed, it will be a huge disappointment for fans of the Alex Cross movies and novels and is in no way likely to convert non-fans.

Nick’s rating: Two stars.

Classification: M

Director(s): Rob Cohen

Release date: 8th Nov 2012

Running time: 101 mins.

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