Tyler Perry's 'Alex Cross' Is Everything You Thought It Would Be (Reviews)

Reviews
by Tambay A. Obenson
October 18, 2012 12:41 PM
42 Comments
  • |

I'm opting out of writing a review of this movie; I have little positive to say about it (well, maybe except for Giancarlo Esposito's few minutes on screen); so instead of doing the expected and beating it up in a critique (trust me, it's too easy), I decided to give you a balanced look at what other reviews are saying about the film.

The final decision is yours, of course.

Without further ado, here's the breakdown. The film is currently registering a low, low 14% rating via Rotten Tomatoes, with 22 reviews in so far. It's down from last night's 22%.

I'll start with the negative (every review is from Rotten Tomatoes by the way), followed by the positive, and finish up with some quick thoughts from me.

First, from Roger Ebert, who's actually usually one of the kinder critics:

"Alex Cross" is a disjointed thriller with two many characters rattling around, including Cross' partner (Edward Burns), his inexplicably domineering and bossy mother (Cecily Tyson) and his sweet wife (Carmen Ejogo), who doesn't want him to take the FBI job in Washington and make their kids leave school. There is also John C. McGinley as the mean and nasty police chief, who at one point tells Cross and his partner, "You're dismissed." Say what? Is this a version of the cop movie cliche where they're made to turn in their guns and badges, or simply an imprecise word choice? This is the first film Tyler Perry has appeared in that isn't his own personal work. He is best known, of course, as Madea, the 6-foot-5 matriarch Perry plays as a cross-dressing signature role. "Alex Cross" would perhaps have been much improved with Medea in the title role.

Glenn Kenny:

Somebody got it wrong. A lot of people got it wrong. And the result is one of the most ridiculous, laughable and dim-bulbed serial killer thrillers in recent memory or ever. Seriously, people, this movie is to "Silence of the Lambs" as "I Am Number Four" is to "E.T." The movie's complete lack of scares and suspense derive from many factors, including a lot of shilly-shallying no doubt designed to preserve a PG-13 MPAA rating. But that's not the only thing. Directed by Rob Cohen, the movie's whole atmosphere is so third-hand and chintzy that the standard comparisons that come to mind (to a Lifetime movie, say) simply won't do. This is atrocious filmmaking of a particular sort, the kind that actually needs tens of millions of dollars to exist. It'd be kind of funny if one could keep from thinking of the actual good movies that this money could have funded. Like a remake of "The Room," maybe.

Roger Moore:

This Cross is cocky, a bit trigger-happy and prone to revenge -- and this Cross is played by Tyler Perry. He's also less interesting. When you fill in a character's back story, you strip away some of his mystique. When you focus on the flippant in a film about a frantic hunt for a psychopathic assassin, you diminish the urgency of the hunt and remove the gravitas of the character. And when you make Tyler Perry run and point a gun, you remember why nobody's ever used him as an action figure before. "Alex Cross" is not an awful movie, but it isn't a very compelling one. Cohen, the screenwriters and Perry share the blame for that. If the Alex Cross movies "Kiss the Girls" (1997) and "Along Came a Spider" (2001) had been this weak, there'd have been no reason to revisit the sad, serious character Freeman brought to life so vividly.

And now here are the good reviews, of which there are only 3 currently, out of 22 thus far:

Pete Hammond:

At its core, Alex Cross is a vehicle for Perry to stretch his talents and show us his cerebral and athletic side, which he's so far kept out of his cinematic oeuvre. He takes a much bolder tack with the role than even Freeman attempted, and finds the essence of the character that has proven so popular in Patterson's lucrative beach reads. Cohen knows his way around this kind of material and turns the familiar story into a gripping action thriller that keeps you on edge throughout. Fox's unexpected casting as the whiplash slender and evil Picasso excels as a balls-out chilling portrayal of a villain with no moral compass and seemingly no blood running through his veins. It may be a one-dimensional style portrayal, but what a dimension. Burns is likable and empathetic as Cross' right hand partner and Nichols is wildly appealing in her few scenes. A solid supporting cast including the great Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) and Tyson as Perry's wise but concerned mother is well chosen. But this is Perry's show all the way and he proves that as a hired actor he can still deliver something audiences aren't expecting from Hollywood's most prolific multi-hyphenate.

Ben Kenber:

The Good: Rob Cohen infuses the movie with taut action and raw emotion, and the performances by Tyler Perry and Matthew Fox are as astonishing as they are riveting. The Bad: It doesn't break any new ground in the realm of crime thriller or vigilante movies. The Verdict Thanks to a game cast, taut action scenes and a surprising dose of raw emotion, Alex Cross finally gets the movie that he deserves.

Prairie Miller:

Helmed by action director Rob Cohen (The Fast And The Furious, XXX), Alex Cross goes for the collective audience jugular with extreme, nearly apocalyptic mayhem and gory violence. And as masterminded by a deliriously depraved Fox ferociously in character, who at times seems somewhat too over the edge nutty to actually pull off such intricately concocted dastardly deeds. But which is always nicely counterbalanced with a subdued yet cool, calm and collected determined demeanor on the part of Perry, no matter what the imminent danger. And impressively demonstrating a surprising broad range of acting talents, even though Perry might have used more than a little help with her adept scoundrel busting skills, from that Madea.

So there ya have it, 3 in favor, 3 against. Like I said, there are far more negative reviews than positive, and I expect that to remain the case even as more reviews pour in.

As the title of this post says, the film is everything you thought it would be; of course what exactly that is, is entirely subjective, and up to each person. Some will like it, others won't. C'est la vie.

I'll tip my hat to Mr Perry for the attempt; it's unlike anything he's ever done before, and, as I've said on this site many times, I applaud risk-taking. Even if you don't succeed in the end, at least you tried. And I'm sure he's learned something from this experience that we can only hope will inform his abilities and decisions going forward.

And I'll also say that it's not entirely his fault. The source material itself is terribly weak. If this were made 30 years ago, it might have been considered ground-breaking. But we've seen the serial killer, man-hunt, revenge movie done so many times, and done a hell of a lot better.

If you're going to make a movie in that genre in 2012, it had better be something transgressive, that pushes the boundaries of that box, or even blows up the box.

This is entry-level stuff. Maybe for Tyler Perry it's a step up, or step in, but for many of us, it's in retrograde; deep in retrograde. 

But maybe it'll do just fine with his base, and that's the point, and enough for it to turn a profit; afterall, a sequel has been announced already, even though the first one isn't out yet.

I'm really curious to see how it does this weekend, at the box office.

So a pat on the back for the effort, but, unfortunately, it just didn't work... for me anyway.

Reviews
  • |
You might also like:
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

42 Comments

  • Hans Olo | December 12, 2012 5:27 AMReply

    Alex Cross isn't about action. It's about mistery and the search for the bad guy. This movie doen't feel the story at all. And there is the acting: It is not good. They fucked up. Too bad because Alex Cross is a character with lot's of potentials for great stories... Thank for books..

  • skeeter | October 19, 2012 10:37 AMReply

    I saw this on Tyler Perry's facebook and thought I should share.
    THEY THINK I CAN'T DO IT

    There are a lot of people who think I can't do this. There are also a lot of people who think you won't show up because I'm not playing Madea. There are also a lot of people who are working overtime to try to discourage you from seeing Alex Cross as they do with all of my films... I'm hoping you'll prove them all wrong.

    Can you believe we've done this 15 times? I gotta tell you, I'm so hoping you are planning on going out to see Alex Cross this weekend. I have never been more excited for you to see me do something. This is totally different for me. I loved it and I think you're going to love it too. You know that the opening weekend is how you're judged in Hollywood. So if you can, please try to get out this weekend. Be sure to check your ticket stubs to make certain they say "Alex Cross" and whatever you do, drop me a message to let me know what you thought. I love to sit by the message board and read your comments. You're the real critics. And judging from what I read on the board from those of you who went to last night's late night shows, you loved it too. TELL SOMEBODY... LOL

    I know you may not know this, but there is a lot riding on this film. This is the first time that I have ever been considered for a role like this. Hollywood has never even offered it to me. I've done my best and I've done all I can. It's in your hands now.

    I feel like a little kid in church about to do my first solo! :-)

    Take someone with you if you can. This is an experience that should be shared.

    Tom Joyner has "take a loved one to the doctor day"... Well today is "take a doubter to the movie day".

    Alex Cross in theaters RIGHT NOW!!!

    I love you guys so much. Thanks for all you've done for me, my employees and their families.

    Be blessed,
    Tyler

  • Janice | October 29, 2012 11:52 AM

    I was sooooo surprised at how you portrayed a different character!!! I loved it. Saw your plays, movies. Watched you as madea and your serious roles. I never expected all the emotions you put into this! It was so intense, so much action; it was hard for me to watch. You could hear responses from the audience. They gasped. They whispered look out! They covered their eyes. People saying Tyler . . . who are you? Some of us wiping tears from eyes.

  • Agent K | October 19, 2012 7:19 AMReply

    It's funny that people assume it's getting negative reviews because of Tyler Perry. To be fair most critics were against this movie not because of TP but because of the direction.

  • Orville | October 19, 2012 3:10 AMReply

    I just think some white critics resent Tyler Perry and it isn't about his movies.
    Tyler Perry is an incredible black man he does what he wants, when he wants to, and NOBODY has control over his career except him. Perry has real power in Hollywood he is friends with Oprah the most powerful woman in Hollywood he owns his own studio and he has a $500 million dollar fortune.

    The so called critics resent Tyler Perry because he is so successful without needed their support or approval.

    I think another reason some of the reviews and comments about Alex Cross are negative is due to homophobia. On various internet blogs I've read comments by people saying Tyler wasn't masculine enough to be the male lead and also some homophobic comments. Some people can't believe a man who did drag can become an action star but it is called ACTING. James Patterson wanted Tyler to be the lead and we will see on Sunday what the verdict is if Tyler's audience goes and watches this movie or not. This movie is a real test to see if Tyler's star power is powerful enough to make this movie a success.

  • Lets get real. | October 19, 2012 2:23 AMReply

    So here's the deal. Alex Cross... Not feeling it. Wanted to like the trailer but
    I just can't do it. Tyler doesn't seem to have the depth that other actors (particularly black actors)
    have. Not that he is terrible, but to take on Alex Cross is heavy for what you can deliver us.

    Side note: S&A needs to look into how much he is paying his actors on his shows, you'd be surprised when comparing it to other day players, regulars etc... it's ridiculous.

  • K Saadiq | October 19, 2012 1:24 AMReply

    Honestly, I am not a fan of Tyler Perry but not opposed to him either. That's irrelevant to my comment. I didn't care who they chose to play Alex Cross but hoped whomever it was, brought the character justice. As a fan of the AC - James Patterson series, I was anxious to see this strong yet compassionate character brought to life. I don't believe TP has the range, yet, to see this particular role . I think that is where Patterson followers may choose to pass on this film, because the previews don't portray the leading man to be as compelling as we are used to in the books. It's a fine line when translating book to film, especially an action thriller. The actors have to bring life to the characters and I just don't find Mr. Perry believable as Alex Cross. I hope he can critique his own performance and learn from it to make himself a better actor in different genres. I'll just have to wait to see if the powers that be find fit to make another Alex Cross movie with a strong leading man.

  • AnotherTylerperryWhore | October 18, 2012 11:37 PMReply

    Like the fellow Tyler Perry whores who have posted in this post, Tyler will make money. Making money proves you are a good filmmaker. Quality doesn't matter when there is money. Go Tyler!

  • Rocket | October 19, 2012 11:28 AM

    "Quality" is subjective. But if a fim makers is not making some kind of money he/she won't be a film maker for long.

  • FuckQualityCinemaGiveMeTyler | October 18, 2012 11:40 PM

    I agree 100% Go Tyler!

  • Nicole | October 18, 2012 11:17 PMReply

    I didn't have high hopes for the quality of this movie but I am glad that Tyler is stepping away from Madea and trying new roles. Isn't that what everyone has been wanting? No more Madea.

  • Miles Ellison | October 18, 2012 8:34 PMReply

    I've taken my share of shots at Tyler Perry, but he may not be the problem with this movie. The real problem is that James Patterson is an airport book carousel hack.

  • K Saadiq | October 19, 2012 1:31 AM

    I regretfully agree with you on the hack comment. I was an avid reader of his past series buthe has gone all Danielle Steel with an overabundance of series/stories, co-authoring, etc. it's just a clusterflunk now. When you do a series, as he has done multiple, the key is to drawing readers in so they care about the characters. There's so many books now, there's nothing concrete to care about. I wonder how many books he has to complete to finish out his contract. Enough already!

  • CareyCarey | October 18, 2012 6:44 PMReply

    CRITICS? What are they good for? Well, I have an analogy. There's a song by a guy named Edwin Starr. It goes--> "War, huh, yeah, what is it good for, absolutely nothing, uh-huh. War, huh, yeah, what is it good for, absolutely nothing. Listen to me, ohhh, war, I despise because it means destruction of innocent lives. War means tears to thousands of mothers eyes when their sons go to fight and lose their lives. Say it again, WAR, whoa, lord, what is it good for absolutely nothing. War [Critics], ain't nothing but a heartbreaker. War, friend only to the undertaker. Ooooh, war [Critics] he's an enemy to most filmmakers. The point of war [Critics] blows my mind. War has caused unrest within the younger generation. Induction then destruction. Good God y'all, what are they good for, absolutely nothing! Say it, say it, say it, War [Critics], huh, what is it good for... ABSOLUTELY NOTHING". Well S&A, that's what I think about critics and their usefulness. Seriously, take them out of the film-making equation and what's left? Does anything change? Nope, notta, nothing is missed. They're like the marine crustaceans, Barnacles, attaching themselves to filmmakers bottoms, living off their sweat and tears. So let's say it again... War and critics, what are they good for... absolutely nothing.

  • Carl | October 19, 2012 2:42 AM

    That was clever Carey and I'll play along. War, huh, yeah, what is it good for, absolutely nothing, uh-huh. War [Tyler Perry], huh, yeah, what is he good for, absolutely nothing but playing Madea. Good God y'all, what are they good for, absolutely nothing. Say it, say it, say it, War {Mr. Perry], huh, what is he good for... ABSOLUTELY NOTHING but playing a man in drag, not Alex Cross!

  • Carey | October 19, 2012 2:25 AM

    If interested, here's the song "War, What Is It Good For" by Edwin Starr. Just insert your own words when you feel it's appropriate. It's an epic piece that has received over 15 million (total) youtube hits. HERE->http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAsdCFc5Src&feature=related

  • Vann Digital Networks | October 18, 2012 4:01 PMReply

    well you can always expect a movie with a mostly (or all) Black and/or Hispanic cast to get the worst reviews in the world from critics. i aint much of a fan of Tyler Perry myself but seeing how bad them critics is roasting this movie is more the reason for me to watch

  • Vote2012 | October 18, 2012 2:53 PMReply

    Critics only matter if you want to win an oscar. Hear are the unbiased facts when it comes to TP and critics.

    The first link will show critics rating and what his fans thought of the film. Just click on each film. The critics rating will be at the top left hand said and fans rating will be at the top right hand side.

    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/celebrity/tyler_perry/
    Big devide between critics and fans.

    The secound link will be the boxoffice of each Tyler Perry film.
    http://boxofficemojo.com/search/?q=tyler%20perry

    As you can see all of his films make money no matter what critics say. So I ask you do critics matter to a man who is 100% critic proof.

  • other song | October 18, 2012 2:03 PMReply

    critics only matter to discerning viewers. Which, unfortunately, seems to be a diminishing population. Let's be real about this. It's not like films are beyond criticism. That's ridiculous. Critics are necessary

  • JMac | October 18, 2012 3:37 PM

    We're back to the "are critics necessary" argument. For the individual, it depends. For the industy itself, critics are definitely necessary. There needs to be a gauge evaluating the true value and quality of film based on standards - historical or modern. Otherwise, how else can any art form grow and elevate rather than lay stagnant in an arc of repetitiveness? For this film I doubt many viewers will care what critics say - you will either watch it or you won't - but that is not to say critics have no importance and it also doesn't necessarily reflect the attitudes of directors, producers, actors who are being critiqued. Anyone directly involved with the project who are serious about their craft regardless of the type of film will welcome genuine criticism if it can lead to a better improved end product. The only ones who don't care at all are those only in it for the money. TP seems to care about critics and wants to be taken seriously or else he wouldn't try to keep expanding his "talents" by doing movies like For Colored Girls and Good Deeds. If all he wanted was money, he would just stick to Madea all day every day. As of yet, nothing he's done on its own merits has any longevity. His only reputation is pushing out movies/tv shows on an assemby line in record time - well almost record time. I think all those copycat Mickey Rooney films in the 30s and 40s have got him beat.

  • Rocket | October 18, 2012 2:34 PM

    Actually critics aren't necessary. A film needs a film maker. And it needs an audience, however small that audience may be. That's it. As viewer I don't "need" a critic to interpret or qualify a film on my behalf. That is what people forget about Perry. People actually pay to watch his material. He creates it, they consume it. No critics needed.

  • Josh | October 18, 2012 1:55 PMReply

    There goes the chance for a Die Hrd reboot with TP.

  • curtis | October 18, 2012 2:07 PM

    Critics are necessary but Tyler Perry has proven 14 times before that his films will make money with or without critics blessing

  • Curtis | October 18, 2012 2:00 PM

    Not really. Money talks louder then Critics. If Alex cross becomes a hit then Die Hard will be in the future.

  • BGC | October 18, 2012 1:41 PMReply

    Never saw a Tyler Perry film but I think it is safe to say that Critics and TP fans never see eye 2 eye when it comes to his films. Critcs hate them and his fans love them. I expect Alex Cross to be another hit for Perry.

  • They call me Mr. Mitt | October 18, 2012 1:30 PMReply

    This year Tyler Perry made his 2nd worst reviewed movie by critics that also became his 2nd biggest box office hit. Critics matter why??????

  • Jules | October 18, 2012 2:00 PM

    What was the first? And this hasn't come out yet, we don't know the box office totals.

  • sharon | October 18, 2012 1:29 PMReply

    Well, that sucks! You write a comment in nice paragraph form and once you hit enter they scrunch it all up together anyway. Humph. I would not read my comment so I suppose others wouldn't either. Oh well... Not gonna let it ruin my day...

  • Xi | October 20, 2012 10:23 AM

    We read you Sharon. You're kinda new, huh?

  • sharon | October 18, 2012 1:27 PMReply

    I'm sorry I am confused... Was this movie an adaptation from the book??? If so then how to you propose to make it something else? Either folks want Tyler to get back in his dress or others will look with an extra critical eye that they would not necessisarily give other actors who try something new. I think I will go and see for myself.

    I want everyone to remember one thing. Your first work is never you best. All of the Madeas was the same and I welcome seeing something new. I also find it interesting how one say there was too many characters running around and another speaks about how no one ever used Tyler as an action figure before. Really??? I do think he made his own way in the business. No one ever used him as anything before. I think folks need to think before they write reviews and not just try to be flashy and flip. As far as too many characters. Good! I am glad folks are working. I know how hard it is to get a job in this business. If the writers thought it was needed I will accept that. If their role should not be given much attention in my mind then I won't give it much weight as far as the story goes. It is hard to make the best match here because some say you should not put everything out there and answer all the questions and sometimes they answer too many of the questions in your mind. I suppose the great movies get it just right and some just get lucky. Take the paranormal movies. I think they are all garbage but some folks wouldn't dare let one hit a theatre without checking them out. It's all perception. I could go on and on but I won't. I will go to the theatre with an open mind. I can say the last few movies I have seen out there I have been quite disappointed. I wish I could get to see more in private screenings where I didn't have to pay. Lately it has been a crap shoot and I love movies!!!

  • Magnavox | October 18, 2012 1:26 PMReply

    Another Tyler Perry film that is trased by critics yet makes a lot of money and loved by his fans. I will be shocked if TP was not in the top 2 of forbs this year

  • Nadia | October 18, 2012 1:23 PMReply

    @Curtis and @A Rage Is Coming: Tyler fans? Did you read the whole post? If you did, you'd see that it's quite fair and balanced. Not only does he give you both sides, but he also adds his two cents at the end, giving Tyler some props for the attempt and even saying that the fact that the film is bad isn't Tyler's fault, passing some of the blame to the fact that the original source material is weak. Relax. This is one of the lightest reads you'll see about the film.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | October 18, 2012 1:23 PMReply

    I'm actually glad Elba was "dismissed" from this project.

  • Jeni | October 18, 2012 3:42 PM

    Maybe it was a blessing in disguise for Idris!

  • ALM | October 18, 2012 1:13 PMReply

    Man, Tambay......Man. I was just telling my mom over the phone last night that I was waiting until S & A did their review of "Alex Cross" before I decided whether to go see the film or not. You all have been promising a review for a couple of weeks, so now I feel let down. I have learned over the years to take the opinions of many of the reviewers you listed above with a grain of salt, but I genuinely take note of the opinions/reviews of S & A's writers and commenters. I know where your review is going, but I hope that you will reconsider posting your full review. I would like to have an idea of specifics regarding what was disliked about the movie.

  • jeni | October 18, 2012 3:45 PM

    Agreed. Posting others' reviews feels a little like a cop out. We would have appreciated a full review, regardless of whether or not it seems to echo what most smart critics are saying. BTW, the TP stans seem to be out in force on S&A today...

  • Chris Unleashed | October 18, 2012 1:12 PMReply

    I half to agree with the last post. Nobody expected this movie to get good reviews. Kiss the girls and Along Came a spider was also killed by critics. Tyler Perry is critic proof anyway. You should know that after 14 box office hits. You like him or you don't.

  • Jug | October 18, 2012 1:11 PMReply

    Not sure what's worse: That one article said Tyler's Acting reviews have been pretty good (from low expectations) or that they are negotiating for the sequel :-(

  • Monique A. Williams | October 18, 2012 1:07 PMReply

    A fair and balanced review. I checked Rotten Tomaotes yesterday when it was at 20%. I'm sure the TP fans will blame the writer and director, but I'm certain if they put someone awesome in the role, it would have fared better. Of course, I didn't see it, but better actors have done well with mediocre scripts, so he can't be blameless.

  • A rage is coming | October 18, 2012 1:06 PMReply

    You act like the last two Alex Cross with Morgan Freeman was loved by critics or something. There were trashed by them but movies goers still liked the films. Alex Cross with Tyler Perry will be the same. Critics will hate it yet Tyler perry fans will love it and fans of Alex cross.

  • Curtis | October 18, 2012 1:01 PMReply

    Kiss The Girls on have a 30% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Along Came A spider onlu have a 32% rating on rotten tomatoes. Alex Cross final rating should not be to far off from those other two. So what you are saying if you like the last two Alex Cross movies then you will like this one. Another Hit for Tyler Perry.

  • my brother's keeper | October 18, 2012 3:57 PM

    There's a sizable difference between a 32% RT rating and a 14% rating. Also, RT has changed substantially since the first Alex Cross movie debuted, now RT has fewer print critics and more online critics. I don't think those past ratings are any gauge regarding whether someone who enjoyed earlier Alex Cross movies would like this one. Morgan Freeman is also a MUCH better actor than Tyler Perry.

Follow Shadow and Act

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • Taraji P. Henson Drama 'From The Rough' ...
  • Electro (Jamie Foxx) Faces Off Against ...
  • Watch Omar Sy In Action As Bishop In ...
  • Black Movie Trivia - Congrats to our ...
  • Interview: Chatting with RZA About Paul ...
  • Sidney Poitier Made Oscar History Today ...
  • Critically-Acclaimed Doc 'The Trials ...
  • Weekend B.O. April 11-13 (Close, But ...
  • GLAAD Awards Honors Jennifer Lopez-Produced ...
  • A Look At Seattle International Film ...