US, 2012, 101 minutes, Colour.
Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Cicely Tyson, John C. Mc Ginley, Rachel Nichols, Giancarlo Esposito.
Directed by Rob Cohen.
I’m afraid that this will probably be quite a disappointment for fans of James Patterson’s Alex Cross novels, even though he and his Entertainment Company have producer’s credits. For those unfamiliar with the books and the characters, this film will be a routine police movie.
The plot is a prequel to the stories of Dr Alex Cross, forensic psychologist, working for the CBI. Here he is in Detroit as a detective, working with schoolfriend, Tome Kan (Edward Burns). Cross is happily married with two children and they live with his mother, Mama Nana. She is played by the fine actress, Cicely Tyson, but does not resemble the character in the novels very much. She is rather skinny and irascible rather than a nice, if demanding, mammy type of the books.
We are introduced to the villain, a skinhead, gaunt ex-army assassin, Mathew Fox (rather nasty as are so many of the villains Alex Cross has to confront). The plot takes the global financial crash as the basis for the killing of several international financiers, led by Jean Reno.
Cross does his detective work, smart in his conclusions, incurring the enmity of the ambitious but rather dumb police chief, John C. McGinley?.
After a very personal section which moves Cross to a spirit of vengeance, the main action is in the attempt to kill the victims, the subsequent chase, and the following through to who hired him. Rather formulaic, as they say.
There is probably more appeal for an American audience, especially the African American audience with writer-director-actor, Tyler Perry in the central role. He has made a number of very popular films which have had no theatrical release in Australia. He is also taking the place of Morgan Freeman who was Alex Cross in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Kiss the Girls was one of the best adaptations of a novel, keeping the basic plot, preserving the mystery and with Freeman creating a memorable character with strength and dignity.
This time the director is Rob Cohen in his action thriller vein, like The Fast and the Furious. Which all means that the film is rather average.
1. The impact for fans of James Patterson’s novels? For those not familiar with the books?
2. A prequel story to the other stories? The introduction to Alex Cross, his work, work with the police, detective, his family, wife and children, Nana Mama? The villain? The FBI prospects?
3. Detroit in 2011, police work, the business world, the hired assassin? The city, homes, mansions, the police precincts, the fight world, the trains, the old theatre? The church? The musical score?
4. The prologue, Alex Cross at work, with Tommy Kane? The chase, the work of the partners, with Monica? The shootout?
5. The situation, Alex and Tom, Tom’s relationship with Monica, against the regulations? The police chief, his attitudes, eye on the elections? His lack of foresight?
6. The introduction to the assassin, his thin appearance, the message to kill, going to the fight club, the brutality, the audience, the bets, the KO? The girl, going home, the discussion about sex and war, the injection, his torturing her, the killing, stealing of the computer?
7. Alex and Maria, their life at home, his detective work, her announcing of the pregnancy, his telling Tommy? The call in the night? His giving Tommy a lecture about his relationship? The mansion, the dead bodies, the discussions about the single killer? The forensic evidence, the injection, the torture, the flashbacks? The charcoal drawing and the clue?
8. Going to the business office, the security guards, the German businessman? His arrogance? The squad, going up to his office, the villain entering by the water tower, the entry into the building, the wall coming down on the office, the chase, the villain’s escape, Tommy and his wounding him? The reactions? going to see Mercier? Discussions, his smooth style, his vanity?
9. Security and Mercier, the restaurant, the attack, Maria shot, her death, the family grief? Cross’s anger? The funeral, the assassin watching, phoning?
10. The spirit of vengeance, Tom and his warnings, Nana Mama and her discussion about revenge? The children, his motives? Comforting his children?
11. The photo, the information about the numberplate, the GPS tracking the car?
12. The police, the venue for the reception, the lockdown, the police chief, sweeping the area, the missile and the attack? Mercier absent, the clue of his ring from Cambodia?
13. The assassin going to the train, the men taunting him on the station, setting up the kill, shooting the men, firing the rocket?
14. The profile of the assassin, narcissistic, ex-army?
15. The chase, the crash, the old theatre, the fight and the pursuit on the roof, the falling to his death? The rescue of Cross?
16. The issue of the computer, information about Mercier, his going to Bali/Cambodia? The phone call, the information, the planted drugs, his assistant and her addiction, his being arrested?
17. Alex Cross, the plan to go to Washington, his return home?
18. The film as a slick police action film rather than an adaptation of James Patterson novels?