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Hollywood Product: Alex Cross 

Tyler Perry attempts to shed his alter ego and step into Morgan Freeman's lofty shoes

CROSSOVER: Tyler Perry as Alex Cross.

Lionsgate

CROSSOVER: Tyler Perry as Alex Cross.

GENRE: Crime drama

THE PITCH: Before Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) became a special agent for the FBI, he was a detective with a Ph.D. in psychology for the Detroit Police. A bizarre murder leads Cross and his team on a maze of intrigue on the elusive trail of Picasso (Matthew Fox), a gun-for-hire who adds an artistic twist to his killings. As the cat and mouse game intensifies, Cross must question how far he'll go catch this killer. This film is loosely based off James Patterson's book "Cross" and is a prequel to the older, methodical Cross portrayed by Morgan Freeman in Kiss The Girls and Along Came a Spider.

MONEY SHOT: Climactic final chase between Cross and Picasso. Both men are pushed to their physical limits when Cross finally ensnares his foe. The scene involves a car crash, a chase and eventually a slug fest with the intent that only one man will walk away alive.

CROSS FIT: Tyler's younger version of the iconic character is only three inches taller than his predecessor but is a bit more physical. Perry's tall, toned frame (who knew) is punctuated whenever he's not shrouded in his trench coat. Perry sports form-fitting jeans, tank tops and even goes shirtless to show off his assets during his "bad cop" scenes, but he looks awkward when running, jumping, and sometimes fighting.

FORTUNE KOOKY: Picasso makes the chase personal as he calls to gloat about his latest kill. Still shaken, Cross threatens his antagonist to which Picasso quotes Confucius, "When setting off on the path to revenge, dig two graves." Cross replies, "I'm okay with that as long as you're in one of them."

THE "I.T." FACTOR: Two long-haired and mussy members of the police department's computer forensics team start to discuss the encryption on a hard drive Cross discovers. As they get more technical with their explanation, Tommy Kane (Edward Burns), Cross' partner says, "Hey Geico cavemen, why don't you break this down so we can understand."

BODY COUNT: Before Picasso's final attack, I counted 12 people in his wake. Afterwards, its literally impossible to count. Picasso lives to torture his victims and gets to engage in this activity four times.

MADEA MOMENTS: You can take the man out of Madea, but you can't take the Madea out the man. Perry reverts to his popular character several times in the film in both tone and motion. If you don't catch all the references, you'll truly notice after a clash with a beat cop when he yells, "Don't you understand what I'm telling you!"

PRODUCT PLACEMENT: This is Detroit so all the vehicles were GM vehicles. Picasso rode around in a Cadillac CTS while Kane pursued in his red Chevy Camaro. Cross meets sleazy kingpin Damarus Holiday (Giancarlo Esposito) at a car museum. Expect to see the Cadillac logo at least four times in obtuse product shots. GM's OnStar service aids the cops when tracking a vehicle. Cross and Kane discuss particulars of the case with French mogul Leon Mercier (Jean Reno) via Skype.

BOTTOM LINE: Sure we can chat about the genesis of the Cross franchise and the street smart, urban veneer writers Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson along with director Rob Cohen placed on this typically intelligent suspenseful property. But what we really want to talk about is how well does Tyler Perry do as a film lead when he's not wearing a granny wig and big-assed female body suit. Previously helmed by mystic negro number one, Morgan Freeman, it would be at anyone's detriment to strike comparisons, especially since this takes place well before the previous two films. But I think Perry sums it best in an exchange between he and Picasso ... "Your days of underestimating me are over." Perry's offers a hipper Cross who is a bit suave, closer to the street and still has a lot of scrap in him while seamlessly balancing the role of perfect husband, dad and criminal profiler. Now I'm not saying he pulled all that off, its just you get the sense of what he was trying to accomplish. As his tidy world spins into chaos, the nuance needed to sell those tragic or emotional bits just isn't there, so it feels phony and amateurish. Fox as his creepy nemesis, and Burns as his sidekick along with tons of action sequences helps diffuse the spotlight on Perry's shortcomings, but as those flatline moments start to add up, your confidence in his ability to take center stage start to diminish. But oddly, that's a good thing. It's a first step and a definitive "I'm more than just a man in a dress" statement to Hollywood and his devout fan base. Glints of Perry's charisma are evident during upbeat moments and illustrate that easy control he has with his the dialog when he's not dealing with scenes that require a subtle emotional crescendo. Overall, Cohen presents an interesting but lopsided thrill ride in Alex Cross that fans of Patterson's books will probably scrutinize severely while Tyler Perry fans will definitely give kudos to this new version of the man that is both masculine, appealing and dark.

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Alex Cross
Rated PG-13 · 101 min. · 2012
Staff Rating:
Official Site: www.alexcrossmovie.com
Director: Rob Cohen
Writer: Marc Moss and James Patterson
Producer: Bill Block, Paul Hanson, James Patterson, Steve Bowen, Leopoldo Gout and Randall Emmett
Cast: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Rachel Nichols, Edward Burns, Jean Reno and Giancarlo Esposito

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