By MARK TURNER
As a fan of James Patterson’s novels involving Alex Cross I was anxious to see how the new version held up. Both pervious films starring Morgan Freeman were good but his depiction of Cross was far from what the books involved, most noticeably his age. When I heard Tyler Perry was chosen for the role my only hope was that he wouldn’t do it in drag. So does the new version hold up? Quite well actually.
The film opens with Cross and his partners chasing a criminal through the decaying area of Detroit. He is caught and another criminal is off the streets. Cross goes home to his family, a reprieve from the mean streets he patrols so well. There he learns that in addition to his two children and mother that live with him, his wife is expecting another child but insists he tell no one. Like that’s gonna happen.
Cut to a paid assassin named Picasso (Matthew Fox) who is stalking his next target, a wealthy woman he seduces by fighting mercilessly in an illegal mixed martial arts ring. Going home with her, she takes him to her bed only to have him inject her with a paralyzing drug and then begin torturing her for information.
Cross is awakened in the early hours of the day and calls in his partner Thomas (Edward Burns). Since Thomas was with Monica, another officer, he lets him know getting involved with another police person will just result in one of them having to leave.
The question is left in the air and they head towards the crime scene. Cross checks out the scene and deduces that the killer paralyzed the victim and then took out all three of her hired guards.
Looking through the house, they discover a missing laptop but then find a back up hard drive the victim kept hidden.
Through various clues Cross puts together the identity of the next victim and he and his team head out to keep him from being murdered. While at this location they run into Picasso and prevent him from fulfilling his mission.
The only problem is that in getting in his way he sets out to make sure it doesn’t happen again first by torturing and killing Monica and then by killing Cross’ wife.
More determined than ever to make sure his family is safe, Cross doubles his efforts to find this psycho who not only kills for a living but enjoys inflicting pain in others. As the clues and body counts begin to add up, Cross and his partner keep moving closer to that final confrontation with Picasso.
The suspense in this film is one that builds slowly like the best of criminal procedural films but a little bit disjointed at times. This doesn’t distract from the story though and its one that not only develops the characters in the film but holds your interest from start to finish as the reason for catching the killer moves from professional to personal.
There isn’t a bad performance in this film. Standing out is Perry as Cross. Having seen Perry in constant drag as Medea in his series of films it was interesting to discover that he’s actually a good actor without hiding behind the petticoat.
The slow burn he displays as his motives alter is well developed and by the end of the film you find yourself anxiously anticipating the next chapter in the stories of Alex Cross. Fox turns in a hair raising performance as the psycho killer Picasso making him not only a worthy adversary but a terrifying one as well.
Though no word is out yet if another film is in the works, fans can hope that this becomes a series of films rather than a stand alone production. Perry does indeed get the character right and would be able to carry the series into long term standing. Let’s just hope that this film does well enough on DVD to insure that it happens. Should it do so fans of Patterson’s Alex Cross will find something to look forward to other than the latest installment at the book store.
Past Digital Views reviews, other current reviews and more can be found online at http://dvddigitalviews.blogspot.com