By Mark Saldana

Rating: 1.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

This film actually had the makings of a thrilling, albeit typical, cop vs. serial killer/cat and mouse movie, if only the writing had not been so terrible.  Based on the novel Cross by author James Patterson, the script by Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson fails because of horrendous, sometimes laughable dialogue, poor construction and exposition, and enough silly implausible scenarios to fill up a Scooby Doo mystery cartoon.  The direction by Rob Cohen feels uninspired and the chaotic, shaky cinematography by Ricardo Della Rosa frustrated me, especially during the action sequences.  Throw in a cartoonishly over the top killer and a miscast actor as a ridiculously brilliant detective and one will have Alex Cross, a dud of a crime thriller that often plays out as absurdly awkward as a blind man trying to drive  a car.

The film serves as a prequel to previous Patterson adaptations, Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider where the Cross character is portrayed by Morgan Freeman.  Cross, played here by Tyler Perry, works as a remarkably intuitive detective for the Detroit police department where he uses his skills and talents as a psychologist.  When investigating the work of a serial killer known as Picasso (Matthew Fox), Cross attracts his attention and becomes his next target. After a loved one falls prey to Picasso, Dr. Cross becomes obsessed with stopping him.

In addition to the writing and directing problems, Matthew Fox’s googly eyed and overacted portrayal of the killer occasionally made me laugh, but overall annoyed me.  Not once did his character frighten or disturb me as that type of character should.  Tyler Perry feels out of place here.  He completely misses the mark as a highly intelligent detective.  Perry portrays Cross more like a clairvoyant psychic rather than a man who uses intuition and deductive reasoning.  Edward Burns also stars as Cross’ partner Tommy Kane, but brings very little to this also poorly developed character.

That pretty much sums it up. Because of the atrocious script, this film never stood a chance.  While Perry probably isn’t the most capable actor of taking on the Cross role, a better script and stronger direction could have remedied his missteps and could have made for a much more gripping and exciting movie.  As for Fox, his performance is so far gone, I’m not sure anything would have helped.  I believe casting him in this type of role may have been a worse choice than the decision to select Perry.  I do not recommend this movie at all.  Skip it at the theater and don’t even bother renting.  I’m sure the die-hard fans of Patterson’s books will dislike this movie even more than I do.

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