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After Washington DC detective Alex Cross is told that a family member has been murdered, he vows to track down the killer. He soon discovers that she was not his first victim and that things are not what they seem.
For more about Alex Cross and the Alex Cross Blu-ray release, see Alex Cross Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on January 26, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Rachel Nichols, Jean Reno, Giancarlo Esposito, Edward Burns
Director: Rob Cohen
» See full cast & crew
Alex Cross Blu-ray Review
Tyler Perry trades in cross-dressing for Cross.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, January 26, 2013
You'd think that a film advertising the pull quote "Tyler Perry like you have never seen him before" would necessarily be a good thing, right? Perry has become something akin to the Henry Ford of moviemaking, churning out a seemingly endless array of product that just as frankly seems, much like Ford's vaunted innovations in auto creation, to have been fabricated on an assembly line. Perry, the ostensibly penetrating examiner of modern day marriage. Check. Perry, the cross-dressing, over the top Madea. Check and double check. If you've seen one Perry film, you have in a very real sense seen most (if not all) of this multi-hyphenate's oeuvre. (I except the one Perry film that actually seemed to show a little range, For Colored Girls, a film that perhaps benefited from having been culled from a source not originally written by Perry himself.) For years I have been recommending to Perry (who I'm absolutely positive reads my reviews —not) to stop doing everything himself and to give himself over to different writers and (especially) different directors. Well, as they say, be careful what you wish for. Alex Cross is certainly a change of pace for Perry, but he seems oddly ill suited to play a dashing criminologist/psychologist/policeman, one who had previously been portrayed by the perhaps more appropriate Morgan Freeman in such films as Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Alex Cross posits the titular character as something of a modern day Sherlock Holmes (that seems to be a trend lately, what with the Benedict Cumberbatch series about Holmes and the newish CBS series Elementary). Cross can deduce all sorts of salient information "from 20 yards away" (according to his partner) and also, due to his degree as a psychologist, intuit motives and the inner workings of the criminal mind. The problem with this conceit is that Alex Cross places this character in two worlds simultaneously: there's the gritty, police procedural world of Detroit's mean streets, and there's the frankly cartoonish world of a supervillain which seems ripped out of a Marvel comic book. It's an unsettling dichotomy at best, and it makes Alex Cross a rather unsettling roller coaster ride.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts (emphasis on nuts) of Alex Cross' story, let's partake in a little quiz: let's say a film posits both a happily married policeman who discovers early in the film that his wife is pregnant, as well as the policeman's partner who is engaged in a torrid affair with a young female rookie. Both of these men then get involved in a really grisly murder investigation that quickly turns into a cat and mouse game with a highly trained assassin. What will happen to the women? A) They'll be harmed or worse by the bad guy; or B) They will continue to be a loving wife and eventual new mother in one case or a beautiful and loving girlfriend in the other, with nary a scratch on either of their pretty little heads. If there's any even minor question about which choice is correct, Alex Cross may well end up providing some putative entertainment value for those who haven't seen formulations like this in countless other crime dramas. For those of you who made the correct choice, it's somewhat indicative of how predictable Alex Cross is at virtually every turn.
Alex Cross was culled from the James Patterson novel Cross and is largely built around Cross (Tyler Perry) and his partner Tom Kane (Edward Burns) being called to the site of a hideous murder (which also involved torture), with both cops quickly figuring out they're involved in a larger scheme that involves multiple potential assassinations. The viewer has already been let in on the fact that the assassin is a demented but very resourceful man who is identified as Picasso (Matthew Fox) due to his penchant for drawing lovely cubist art renditions of his latest murder victims. In one of several kind of strange gambits that screenwriters Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson and director Rob Cohen undertake, we get the first part of the first murder delivered in "real time", with the rest of the hideous scenario playing out as Cross reconstructs the crime scene, Sherlock Holmes-style. (Without spoiling too much about this admittedly very disturbing scene, there's a glaring lapse of logic which is never explained. Picasso drugs his victim with a something akin to Rohypnol, leaving her paralyzed and unable to speak as he then tortures her, demanding the password to her laptop computer. Ummm. . .excuse me, you just drugged her and she can't speak, dimwit!)
Cross and Kane, along with help from Kane's rookie girlfriend Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols) do some surprisingly effective police work and manage to thwart Picasso's next murder attempt, which really, really ticks off the would be assassin. That's when things get personal, in one of Alex Cross' most predictable and manipulative elements. Even without that perhaps (literally) fatal misstep, though, Alex Cross has already faltered in being able to balance its realistic procedural side with a villain that would be more at home in an X Men movie. In fact Fox's Picasso is by far the most riveting thing about Alex Cross, if for no other reason than how completely the actor has physically transformed himself for the role. He's obviously shed a lot of weight, to the point where his face looks almost skeletal, and a shaved head only adds to the ghastly appearance of the character.
The film wants to be a supposedly visceral exploration of one man's moral degradation as he proceeds down a road of vengeance, and while Perry perhaps does better than might be expected in this portrayal, he still lacks the gravitas and nuance that a less self-conscious actor might bring to the role (I couldn't help but think what someone like Denzel Washington could have done with this part, to name just one alternative). The film does deserve some kudos for using both its Detroit and Cleveland locations spectacularly well almost all of the time, and Burns as well as a large supporting cast (including Cicely Tyson, Jean Reno and John C. McGinley) do largely very commendable work. But the central issues with Alex Cross are ones of tone and balance. Is this supposed to be a gritty urban crime drama or an over the top graphic novel? My hunch is not even Alex Cross himself would be able to deduce a good answer for that question.
Alex Cross Blu-ray, Video Quality
Alex Cross is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.39:1. Having just reviewed the excellent documentary Side by Side, which discusses the slow but steady encroachment of digital technology in the world of film, it's rather interesting to hear Rob Cohen in his commentary defend his decision to shoot Alex Cross on film ("real film", as he puts it), proud of the color scale that approach brings as well as its ability to fully display the decrepit world of downtown Detroit, which is used to really spectacular advantage in several key sequences of the movie. Cohen's decision does appear to have been very smart, for the film bristles with an intense visual flair that pops really beautifully on this Blu-ray. Fine detail is exceptional in midrange and close-up shots, and even with several key segments taking place in shrouded environments, contrast is strong and shadow detail remains quite fulsome. While there are no real compression artifacts to speak of, a couple of establishing shots may have been sourced from stock footage, for they're noticeably more ragged than the bulk of the film and in one instance have what looks like digital noise. Otherwise, though, this is an extremely sharp looking high definition presentation that preserves a naturally filmlike appearance while delivering some really crystal clear imagery.
Alex Cross Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Alex Cross' lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix provides a wealth of really nice immersion while at the same time not sacrificing nuance in either the explosive set pieces or the quieter dialogue moments. A lot of the urban locations are filled with great discrete channelization (listen to the wonderful placement of footsteps in the opening chase sequence or the nice panning in the climactic scene with Fox in his car). As might be expected in a crime thriller, there are some great bursts of LFE, not necessarily limited solely to gun shots. The track does remarkably well in the film's dialogue moments. The crowded police station is a great example, where we have clearly directional dialogue between the three principals, while the background clamor of the large room spills into the surrounds. Fidelity is excellent and dynamic range is extremely wide.
Alex Cross Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Alex Cross Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Alex Cross probably isn't the complete disaster that some critics made it out to be in its theatrical release, but that doesn't mean it's great, either. There's just a jarring disconnect between the relatively realistic (if awfully deductive) Alex Cross and the over the top villain he's pitted against. It's beyond even a showdown between, say, Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty and plays more like Sherlock Holmes against Magneto. The film looks quite handsome, and truth be told Perry is a lot better than even I would have expected, but the lion's share of the acting honors here go to Fox for a really disturbing (but effective) turn as an obviously insane killer. Fans of the Patterson novels might want to check this out as a rental, but I strongly doubt Perry's rabid regular fan base is going to be storming the battlements to see their erstwhile Madea playing it straight for a change.
Alex Cross Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: February 5-12 - February 2, 2013
For the week of February 5th, Paramount Pictures is bringing the dark drama Flight to Blu-ray. The film marks director Robert Zemeckis' return to live-action filmmaking for the first time since 2000's Cast Away, and Zemeckis demonstrates that his eye for crisp ...
• Alex Cross Blu-ray - November 27, 2012
Summit Entertainment, a Lionsgate company, has officially announced that it will release on Blu-ray Rob Cohen's action thriller Alex Cross (2012), starring Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Jean Reno, and Rachel Nichols. The release will hit retail shelves on February ...
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