Thursday, February 14, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Alex Cross (2012) *

PG-13, 101 min.
Director: Rob Cohen
Writers: Marc Moss, Kerry Williamson, James Patterson (novel “Cross”)
Starring: Tyler Perry, Ed Burns, Matthew Fox, Jean Reno, Carmen Ejogo, Cicely Tyson, Rachel Nichols, John C. McGinley, Werner Daehn

I am astounded at just how bad “Alex Cross” is. This is an example of filmmaking ineptitude at every level—poor direction, poor writing, poor acting, poor editing, and awful scoring. This movie is just terrible. Perhaps it was made as an example for film students of how not to make a movie.

The screenplay reads like it was compiled from the encyclopedia of movie clichés. Just about every overused melodramatic line is uttered at some point in time in this film. The screenwriters try desperately to involve the audience in the lives of the heroes, yet offer nothing original or interesting about their lives for us to care about. They spend the first twenty minutes giving us backstory before bothering to get to the police case that is the focus of the movie’s plot. Anyone whose seen only a few crime movies knows the best way to get an audience involved in a crime plot is to start with the plot, not the character development. That’s supposed to come later after you’re already trying to figure out what the crime is all about. This movie has it’s whole set up backward.

This is something any worthwhile director would’ve noticed immediately and could’ve fixed in the editing room. From what I know of Rob Cohen’s movies, I’m guessing he never really strays from the pages he’s given for a script and never works with the screenwriters to develop the action in a more interesting way. He also shows an absolutely misguided notion of how to create tension with the camera. There is an action sequence near the end of the film that is basically a car chase. The cops aren’t actually chasing anyone, because they don’t know that their killer is on a train. That’s not what’s so wrong though. Throughout this high-speed non-chase, the heroes are talking with a fellow officer back at police headquarters. Every time Cohen shows us the woman at headquarters the camera is jumping around and swinging back and forth around her station, I suppose to give her scenes the same kinetic energy as the chase. This is ridiculous. Every time it cut back to the headquarters I couldn’t help but thinking downtown Detroit was experiencing a number 5 on the Richter Scale.

Then there’s the acting. Hmmm. I was hopeful when I heard that Tyler Perry had been cast in the iconic role of the young profiler Alex Cross that had been played in an older version by Morgan Freeman in two previous films. Within minutes I desperately wanted Freeman back in the role. For a man who spends so many movies dressed up as a woman, Perry is one of the least dynamic actors I’ve ever seen in a starring role in a major motion picture. His supporting cast isn’t much better. Only Matthew Fox, as the killer, seemed to bring any sort of energy to his role, and he could’ve used to dial it down a notch.

This is simply not a good movie, and an absolutely terrible way to reboot a franchise. I guess it’s back to the drawing board for old Alex Cross. 

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