We don’t know about you, but the first time we laid our eyes on Tyler Perry, decked out in his full Madea drag, our first thought was Yeah, ha ha, fine, but why isn’t that guy in a cop movie? Well, at last, our moment has arrived; tomorrow, theaters nationwide will welcome Alex Cross, a reboot of the James Patterson adaptations, with Mr. Perry taking over for Morgan Freeman. The idea of that actor match-up is sketchy enough, but with director Rob Cohen (the esteemed filmmaker behind xXx, Stealth, and the original Fast and the Furious) at the helm, Patterson’s brainy sleuth has been reimagined as a shotgun-wielding badass. Well, sorry, but we’re not buying it. After the jump, a closer look at Mr. Perry and a few other folks who we don’t quite buy as action heroes.
Tyler Perry, Alex Cross
Say what you will about Perry’s limited skills as a writer/director (and they are mighty limited), you can’t begrudge the guy his versatility; he typically plays more than one role in his films, and does them fairly capably. If only he were working with better filmmakers than himself — and that doesn’t happen in Cross. Perry seems painfully ill-at-ease as the title character, in his pre-FBI Detroit cop days; he carries his shotgun as though he’s never seen one before, and his action scenes primarily showcase a series of weird facial tics that we’re to misinterpret as a tough-guy grimace. Meanwhile, his hand-to-hand fight scenes with Matthew Fox (chewing scenery as though it were coated with cinnamon sugar) are carefully shot and edited so that we seldom actually see Perry deliver a punch. His performance isn’t a total washout — he delivers on the big melodramatic beats in the second act. But then again, that’s what he’s comfortable doing.