Alex Cross (Blu-ray + Digital Copy)
Directed by Rob Cohen
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 101 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English; Dolby Digital 2.0 English, 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: English, SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Review Date: January 25, 2013
When Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) and partner Thomas Kane (Edward Burns) investigate a professional hit in a high class home in Detroit, Cross determines that it’s not the work of a squad but that of one man, a man who takes a particular glee in extracting the maximum pain in his victims before finally finishing them off. When a second hit is thwarted by the duo due to a drawing the hit man left at the scene of the first crime, the killer is dubbed Picasso (Matthew Fox) and his ultimate target is determined to be wealthy financier Giles Mercier (Jean Reno), the other marked victims all part of his global financial network. Profiling his killer, Alex determines that he and his family has nothing to fear from the marksman, that he’s single-minded in his purpose to kill Mercier, so he’s horrified when he gets a call from the killer who has him and his wife (Carmen Ejogo) in his crosshairs as they’re celebrating the news that Alex is about to become a father for the third time. Now the duel between the two becomes a personal one.
In setting up the younger version of Alex Cross for film (and which is truer to James Patterson’s hero in the novels), screenwriters Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson attempt to show us both the brawn and brains of the man in a series of early incidents which set up his character nicely for those unfamiliar with his gifts. We’re also treated to a very inventive introduction of our villain, too, as he blows into town and enters himself in an underground MMA brawl where his psychotic viciousness is shown in full flower (though this comes back to haunt the screenwriters in the ludicrous final battle between Cross and Picasso who based on the MMA fight against a champion whom he easily defeated should have been no problem to best Cross but who indeed is bested by him). With the rating being PG-13, the sex and violence is fairly toned down for this kind of action thriller (for example, we don’t see fingers being cut off), but with Rob Cohen’s lethargic direction (a surprise coming from the man who directed The Fast and the Furious, XXX, and the 2008 Mummy reboot), it was probably for the best since he drags scenes out interminably while never establishing the razor-edged pacing that might have amped up this battle between these two brainy brawlers. A funeral scene plopped into the middle of the investigation brings action to a screeching halt and is dramatically inept in that the brilliant Cross does nothing to protect his children or his mother (Cicely Tyson) from further harm from the lunatic Picasso since by then it’s clear he’s not only working on contract but also carrying out a private vendetta of his own. There are several plot holes like this scattered throughout the narrative.
Though he’s not just a comedian, Tyler Perry is simply unsuited to the part of Alex Cross. He gives off no vibes of a hyper intelligence at work in the way that Morgan Freeman always does (or that an actor like Courtney B. Vance exudes), and while he handles the action stuff adequately, he’s just not as dramatically riveting as the part requires. For signs of that kind of screen magnetism, look no farther than Matthew Fox who plays the contract killer Picasso. Physically shredded and cut to an astonishing degree, Fox’s physical look and his natural charisma simply mesmerize. He doesn’t overdo the psychotic quirks, but they’re there just enough to make him a disturbing and potentially lethal presence, and he's unquestionably the best thing in the movie. Edward Burns has that easy-going Irish charm that serves the film well offering a neat contrast to Cross’ more cerebral half of the team. Cicely Tyson has a couple of juicy character-filled scenes as Cross’ ornery mama while John C. McGinley offers the usual politically-oriented chief of police who’s more a hindrance than a help. As the ladies to the two police partners, Carmen Ejogo and Rachel Nichols make fetching presences but little else.
The film’s 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully delivered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is generally excellent and only slides a bit in moments where natural light suffuses a scene making the contrast a little murky and indistinct. Color is saturated naturally with realistic and appealing flesh tones. Black levels are very good throughout. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix is good but seems a little underwhelming for an action thriller such as this one. The big audio set pieces like the opening MMA match and several powerful explosions scattered throughout the film don’t have quite the impact that one might expect. Better is the use of the wide soundfield to place split effects to maximum use in the climactic stalking scene between hero and villain through an abandoned theater. John Debney’s driving music is nicely spread throughout, and the dialogue has been expertly recorded and has been placed in the center channel.
The audio commentary is by director Rob Cohen. It’s a mixture of behind-the-scenes anecdotes mixed with the director’s describing the action we’re seeing on screen, sometimes offering psychological motivations for the characters’ behaviors. It’s not the best or worst of these commentaries, but fans will certainly want to hear it.
The bonus material is presented in 1080p.
“The Psychologist and the Butcher: Adapting and Filming Alex Cross” is a 14 ¼-minute series of interviews with original author James Patterson, director Rob Cohen, and stars Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, and Edward Burns all extolling the virtues of this new beginning to the “Alex Cross” franchise.
There are four deleted scenes which can be viewed separately or combined into a 5 ¼-minute montage of scenes.
There are promo trailers for The Cold Light of Day, Good Deeds, Man on a Ledge, and Madea’s Witness Protection.
There are enclosed instructions for downloading the digital copy for iTunes or the Cloud.
2.5/5 (not an average)
Fans of Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls will have some major adjustments to make with Alex Cross as the new prequel entry into the franchise. The film has a miscast star and sluggish direction weighing it down, but fans of its cast (particularly Matthew Fox who is smashing in the film) may at least want to give it a rental.