ALEX CROSS. Forgotten crime thriller. Deservedly so?

What happened to Rob Cohen?

Krzysztof Walecki

20 January 2024

CROSS. Forgotten crime thriller. Deservedly so?

Alex Cross, not only demonstrates a decline in his already not-so-high form but also a complete lack of the energy he once had even when making the bizarre Stealth.

Earlier, he directed two successful action films with Vin Diesel (The Fast and the Furious and  xXx), although they are far from his best achievements in the 90s when he entered the top league with the biopic Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story and the fantasy adventure film The Last Dragon. These films were full of passion and spirit, showcasing his impressive craftsmanship, which he later relied on when the script left much to be desired (such as Daylight with Sylvester Stallone). However, he clearly gave in when he signed his name to The Skulls, a film that is clumsy both in terms of the script and direction. He dit it again with Alex Cross, an example of poor style supported by a very uninspiring script.

Alex Cross Tyler Perry Matthew Fox

The titular character Alex Cross comes from James Patterson’s book series, two of which have already been adapted into films with Morgan Freeman playing Cross in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Here, he is replaced by a younger Tyler Perry, turning Cohen’s film into a sort of prequel to those stories. We learn that the main character, before joining the FBI, was a brilliant detective in Detroit, capable of quickly deducing how a crime was committed and almost immediately creating a psychological profile of the killer. Soon, he discovers that he is not infallible when faced with a psychopath (Matthew Fox) who enjoys inflicting slow and exceptionally refined tortures on his victims. The psychopath targets a powerful French investor, but after Alex Cross and his team intervene to thwart one of the killer’s attacks, he decides to severely punish the detective.

Alex Cross

Cross’s private life also plays a significant role in the story – a loving wife, mother, daughter, son, and a third child on the way. It’s not particularly interesting but important as it lays the foundation for the transformation that occurs in the main character in the second half of the film. However, be prepared for cliché lines like “Think about whether you’ll be able to come back when you go through these doors.” Unfortunately, Alex Cross has terrible dialogues that are not only of poor quality but also excessive. Everyone here talks, describes, and explains repeatedly. Seeing something on the screen is not enough; you also have to hear a detailed description. I understand that the character was supposed to be like Sherlock Holmes, who sees more than others and shares that knowledge with the audience. But with moderation, please, with moderation…

Alex Cross Matthew Fox

Moreover, Alex Cross ‘s subsequent discoveries and, consequently, plot twists, will only surprise those who have never seen an action movie in their lives or have slept through the last 30 years. To say that Cohen’s film is as simple as a pencil would be an understatement. Predictable? Can you predict something you’ve already seen? A brilliant and determined cop, a psychopathic killer, an intellectual duel (let’s say), and a fistfight in the finale – cinema knows hundreds, if not thousands, of such stories. But these numbers indicate that audiences want to watch the same thing again, though not necessarily in the same way. A talented director can make a competent film from mediocre material. Not necessarily good, but if the viewer forgets about the real world during the screening and the movie engulfs them, then you can talk about success.

Meanwhile, Alex Cross provides a safe viewing experience where you can simultaneously follow the plot and plan what to do after leaving the cinema. One doesn’t interfere with the other. It got me thinking, though not about the movie itself.

Alex Cross Tyler Perry

Who came up with the idea of casting Tyler Perry as Cross? The guy tries his best, but it’s immediately evident that he has no chance against Matthew Fox. Fox himself is surprising – I have never seen anyone change so much for a role (the actor known from Lost seems about 20 kilos lighter, though at the same time incredibly muscular) and play so poorly. His villain stares wide-eyed in every scene, and alongside the physical transformation, that’s his only idea for the role. The film also features Edward Burns, Jean Reno, and John C. McGinley. Burns looks exhausted, Reno looks overweight, and McGinley talks to the camera.

For a film about a psychopath cutting fingers and burning eyes, Alex Cross is very mild in depicting violence. It’s no longer a thriller like the previous parts but rather action cinema, unfortunately unsuccessful. The final showdown had the potential to deliver stronger emotions to the audience, but the shaky camera ruined even that. Yes, Alex Cross is a bad film, but educational in a way. The lessons it imparts boil down to three things: “Never trust French investors,” “War and sex have a lot in common. In both cases, someone always dies,” and “Something went wrong with Rob Cohen.”