Tyler Perry slips in new role as action hero

Tyler Perry and Mat­thew Fox star in the film ‘Alex Cross.’


Tyler Perry, ac­tion hero? When I think of box of­fice ac­tion her­oes, people like Bruce Wil­lis, Sly Stal­lone, Will Smith and Matt Da­mon come to mind. Not Perry.

I ima­gine that just about every­one is used to see­ing Perry don a wig, dress and makeup and go for the easy laughs in movie after movie. There have been a few Tyler Perry movies where he has not played Madea (Why Did I Get Mar­ried?), but they are not usu­ally as suc­cess­ful or buzzworthy as the Madea ones. However, he has shown some de­cent dra­mat­ic act­ing chops in some of his more ser­i­ous flicks.

The film Alex Cross is the first time he’s star­ring in a flick that he hasn’t writ­ten, dir­ec­ted and pro­duced as well, so I had mod­er­ately high hopes of it be­ing a good movie. And while it was nice to see Perry step out­side his com­fort zone, I didn’t quite buy him as a hot­shot po­lice de­tect­ive run­ning around, shoot­ing a gun and solv­ing crimes.

If the name Alex Cross rings a bell, it’s be­cause Dr. Cross is the fic­tion­al de­tect­ive/psy­cho­lo­gist and prot­ag­on­ist of a pop­u­lar book series by au­thor James Pat­ter­son. And this isn’t his first time on the big screen. Cross was pre­vi­ously played by Mor­gan Free­man in Kiss the Girls (1997) and Along Came a Spider (2001).

Alex Cross takes us to the pre-Free­man days, with Perry as the young­er prot­ag­on­ist. The ad­ap­ted screen­play by Marc Moss and Kerry Wil­li­am­son loosely fol­lows Cross, the 12th book in the series.

Be­fore Dr. Cross worked at the FBI in Wash­ing­ton D.C. (as Free­man did in the first two movies), he was a de­tect­ive in De­troit and that’s where Perry steps in. Cross lives with his grand­moth­er Nana Mama (Cicely Tyson), wife Maria (Car­men Ejogo) and their two chil­dren. He has re­cently learned Maria is ex­pect­ing baby num­ber three.

Cross meets his match in The Butcher (a scary look­ing Mat­thew Fox), a so­ciopath­ic hired killer. The Butcher’s first crimes are the grue­some murders of a young wo­man and her hired help at home. Cross ar­rives on the scene and in­vest­ig­ates with his part­ners Tommy (Ed­ward Burns) and Mon­ica (Rachel Nich­ols). The dead wo­man is a high­er-up at a ma­jor cor­por­a­tion, so Cross and his team fol­low the trail and real­ize some of the com­pany’s oth­er em­ploy­ees may be next on The Butcher’s list.

Things get per­son­al quickly when Cross foils The Butcher’s next hit at­tempt, and people close to Cross get caught in the cross­fire.

The movie is PG-13, but some of the vi­ol­ence is rather graph­ic, in par­tic­u­lar the murder of the young wo­man. The cli­mat­ic fight scene is pretty lame and rushed. There’s no real sense of drama or ques­tion about who will live or die.

It’s been said that Perry will star in a se­quel, but I have my doubts. I’m also not sure his Madea audi­ence will fol­low him to a dif­fer­ent type of role.

You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

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