A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
What's the story?
ALEX CROSS (Tyler Perry) is a Detroit detective who specializes in criminal profiling. He and his partners -- best friend Tommy (Edward Burns) and younger cop Monica (Rachel Nichols) -- are the police department's premiere detective team. But when a hit man (a crazy-eyed Matthew Fox) inexplicably kills three goons and a beautiful businesswoman with ties to a multinational corporation trying to plan a revitalization project in the Motor City, things start to get especially dangerous for everyone around Cross. The assassin switches his attention from a trio of business leaders to Cross and the people he loves. When tragedy strikes Cross personally, he and Tommy decide to go after the hit man by any means possible.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the meanings of justice and vengeance -- are they the same? How does Alex Cross' approach to the hit man (and his boss) change throughout the movie? Why are movies about vengeance so popular?
How is the villain in Alex Cross portrayed? Does he seem to have an actual agenda? Was his story resolved in a satisfactory way?
When is it OK to break the rules (or go outside the law)? When isn't it?
- In theaters: October 19, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: February 5, 2013
- Cast: Matthew Fox, Rachel Nichols, Tyler Perry
- Director: Rob Cohen
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence including disturbing images, sexual content, language, drug references, and nudity
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.