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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The story's message is that sometimes vengeance is better than waiting for the law to provide justice.
Positive Role Models
Alex Cross starts out as a role model who relies on smarts and intuition to solve crimes, but his moral code becomes a vigilante need for justice through vengeance. His mother, though, is the movie's moral center, reminding him that despite his despair, he still has to come home and raise two children.
Violence & Scariness
The killer in this movie isn't just a paid hit man, he's a psychopath who relishes inflicting pain. Some people he just shoots and kills instantly (with sniper precision), and others he tortures (viewers see him cut off a sedated and bound woman's finger and later find out he cut them all off, after hearing the sounds of it happening). He also kills his target's wife just for fun and takes a photo of a decapitated woman's head that he then texts to her friend. There are several scenes of hand-to-hand combat, a couple of shootouts, a deadly fall onto a car, explosions that cause collateral damage, and an amateur MMA competition that leaves the loser incapacitated due to the winner's desire to cause serious pain.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One sex scene turns to violence: A woman wearing nothing but lingerie asks a man she's been flirting with (and thinks she's going to sleep with) to bind her arms -- but her anticipation turns to horror when he injects her with a drug. Another brief sex scene. A married couple kisses and cuddles a few times.
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Language includes a couple of mumbled words that could be "f--k," plus "s--t," "son of a bitch," "ass," "hell," "ass," "damn," "goddamn," and "oh my God."
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Products & Purchases
Car brands prominently featured include Cadillac, Ford, and OnStar. Apple computers are also visible.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A made-up drug is a central plot point. It sedates and paralyzes people but leaves them aware of their surroundings. The killer drugs some of his victims so he can torture them. A rich businessman offers Alex Louis XIII cognac that costs thousands of dollars. He declines, but the millionaire drinks it. Adults at a restaurant have drinks.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Alex Cross is a quasi-prequel to the other James Patterson-based dramas featuring a much-older Cross (played by Morgan Freeman in Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls). The younger version of Cross (played by Tyler Perry) is even more willing to chase criminals and do what's necessary to stop them -- and that doesn't necessarily mean getting them behind bars. The violence isn't as extreme as, say, a Quentin Tarantino movie, but it's probably equivalent to one of the newer Bond films. In other words, it's not just shootouts, but also scenes of torture, a decapitated head, and a pregnant woman killed for pleasure by a villain who takes joy in inflicting pain. Even iffier? In the end, the movie's message seems to be that even officers of the law sometimes need to take a morally questionable path toward justice. Also expect some language ("s--t," etc.), a scene with a lingerie-clad woman, and lots of GM vehicles. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The best part of Alex Cross is the supporting performances by actors too good to be in such a forgettable thriller. There's John C. McGinley playing Cross' politically motivated police chief; the imperious Jean Reno as a French billionaire; and Breaking Bad break-out Giancarlo Esposito as a Detroit gangster Cross goes to for help in his quest for vengeance. Also of note is the always fabulous Cecily Tyson, who's sadly reduced to playing the stereotype of the sage old voice of reason.
Sadly, even the presence of such wonderful actors can't save Alex Cross from being utterly dismal. Whether it's the lazy screenplay with its predictable outcome and derivative touches (a head in a box has never pulled the same punch since David Fincher's Seven) or the fact that Lost star Fox spends the entire movie with an over-the-top look of insanity that's almost laughable, there's just no end to the reasons to be underwhelmed by this thriller. Yes, Cross is a genius who can tell everything about everyone with his hyper-observant eyes, but some of his profiling monologues border the ridiculous. If there's any injustice this movie proves, it's that a beloved book hero has yet to get a decent movie adaptation.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.