Alex Cross - Blu-ray Review

'Perry's transformation to badass killing machine has all of the authenticity of Howard The Duck doing likewise'

For those of us who are rather fond of the Morgan Freeman Alex Cross films, Kiss The Girls and Along Came A Spider, it would be convenient for Alex Cross to be utterly awful and without merit. This is a different take on the source material to the Freeman films, a less cerebral adaptation where Cross himself is dumbed down to be less super-smart boffin, more action-man incarnate, with Tyler Perry swanning smugly along in the lead. It is, even before you've seen it, an easy film to hate.

It feels strange then to be reporting disappointment that Alex Cross isn't awful. Despite the ill-wishes towards it by many, for varying reasons, Rob Cohen's film simply is not completely without merit. Ignoring all around it, ignoring that even this adaptation would have been better with original role incumbent Idris Elba, ignoring how good a final Freeman version could have been; Alex Cross survives on its own limited merits. This is a poor action film, and then some, but one featuring no redeeming features? That would be doing Matthew Fox a huge disservice.

Playing a clever, vicious antagonist to Perry's bulked policeman, Fox is as transformed as Christian Bale in The Machinist. A combination of slimmed-down weight and bulked-up muscle, he cuts a violent figure, stalking scenes with a convincingly cold grimace. It's a lesson for any actor in just how different a screen presence can be achieved with drastic alterations in body mass.

Shame that Fox went to so much trouble for a film that is still, all of the above considered, well under par when compared to better offerings in the franchise's new Action genre home. Roughly dividing into two halves, the first sees Fox stalking whomever he chooses whilst the second has Perry and partner Ed Burns chasing him. If that seems simplistic then that's because it is. There's no depth here; of character or otherwise, and by the time the final, final, paper thin reveal comes, you won't care why everyone was really trying to kill everyone else, nor be given reason to.

Perry's Cross is smarmy enough to stop a severely injured woman in the first handful of scenes, just so she can tell him how wonderful he is, whilst his transformation to badass killing machine later on has all of the authenticity of Howard The Duck doing likewise. Rent-a-sidekick specialist Norton gets nothing and shows no desire to do more and Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson's script goes into cliché overdrive about halfway through, including the millionth time a policeman has been offered a drink whilst on duty and refused because, erm, he's on duty.

If it were just another poor action film, Alex Cross would be a sad enough experience to beholden, despite the interest generated by Fox. It's not though, it's a new entry in what used to be a clever franchise and this is a worrying new trend for Hollywood, whose mantra here is to take an intelligent character and then go out of their way to make him dumber.

Alex Cross is released on UK Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 6th May 2013.

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