Actor/producer/director Tyler Perry is known largely for his widely popular movies focusing on the over the top Madea. So it goes without saying that when he was announced to take over the role of Alex Cross from veteran actor Morgan Freeman, audiences both of his work and that of author James Patterson were left quite in shock to say the least. Any time that an actor or actress takes a leap outside of his or her comfort zone, it also pulls said actor/actress’ fans out of their comfort zones. And that apparently is what happened in the case of his take in the new action flick bearing the character’s name.
Perry’s audiences and critics alike were pulled out of their comfort zone with Alex Cross because all involved became so accustomed to seeing Perry in dramadies, not action flicks. So much so that they refused to see Perry’s potential in this movie. Director Rob Cohen even discusses this in the Director’s Commentary of the movie’s new home release on DVD and Blu-ray. It’s just one of many discussions that he raises which will make for more appreciation for this movie among audiences. The reality of Alex Cross is that while the story may be somewhat outrageous, it’s no more outrageous than the criminal profilers in CBS’ Criminal Minds going out on “missions” to stop deranged killers, which is exactly what co-star Matthew Fox (ABC’s Lost) plays here. Fox expertly plays the absolutely deranged sociopathic killer Picasso who is hell bent on taking down Cross for past events. Much like Perry, his performance is a powerhouse. He is one of those villains that is totally believable. He is one of those rare villains that audiences love to hate, and by whom they are disturbed. That means that Fox did his job and did it well. So to that extent, Fox and Perry together really are what make the story work.
Keeping in mind why Picasso is after Cross, one can’t help but make at least a slight comparison to fellow actor Denzel Washington’s 1999 crime drama, The Bone Collector. The difference between the two is that this crime drama is far better and moves much faster. What Perry has done here for all intents and purposes is harnessed both Washington and fellow action star Will Smith and proven to be even better than both. Audiences need only allow themselves to suspend their disbelief and they too will realize Perry’s talents as an action star.
It goes without saying that a number of factors were changed in this adaptation of its namesake book by author James Patterson. But few movies ever adapted from books have ever stayed one hundred percent true to their origins. Just look at the movies in the Die Hard franchise. They are prime examples of that. Audiences need to keep this in mind as well in order to maintain their suspension of disbelief. Allowing that to happen allows audiences to simply enjoy the fast paced action that starts right off the bat and barely lets up right to the movie’s final confrontation. And if doing that doesn’t work, then perhaps watching the bonus making of featurette in the brand new DVD and Blu-ray release of the movie will finally convince people to let go of their own expectations. The feature, “The Psychologist and the Butcher: Adapting & Filming Alex Cross” features interviews with James Patterson himself in which he in no uncertain terms lets audiences know that he accepts the big screen adaptation of Cross. It’s nice to see an author giving his personal stamp of approval on an adaptation of one of his books. And hopefully both Patterson’s readers and Perry’s fans will come together after watching this new home release and give the movie the appreciation which it deserves. It is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online and is worth at least one watch by any true action movie fan.
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