Best-known for his drag role as headstrong Atlanta matriarch Madea in a string of stage and film comedies, Tyler Perry plays things straight as brilliant forensic psychologist Alex Cross, the character created by bestselling author James Patterson and previously played on screen by Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls (1997) and Along Came a Spider (2001).

A series reboot cum prequel, the film finds Cross working as a Detroit police detective and in hot pursuit of Matthew Fox’s psychotic serial killer, dubbed Picasso because of the cubist charcoal drawings he leaves behind at crime scenes.

Cross is a veritable Sherlock Holmes, ‘a guy who can tell you had scrambled eggs for breakfast at a hundred yards’, and he soon works out that the killer’s ultimate target is Jean Reno’s smarmy French billionaire Giles Mercier. Yet before he can nab his man, the quest turns deeply personal…

You don’t need to share Cross’s deductive genius to twig where this serial-killer thriller is going.  The routine script doesn’t spring any surprises and nor does the acting. Completely lacking Freeman’s gravitas and charisma, Perry makes a dull lead, and his co-stars are similarly lacklustre. Reno and Edward Burns (Cross’s Watson-like sidekick) are simply going through the motions, although Fox puts more effort into his crazy psycho role. Shame then that his twitchy performance seems to have rubbed off on Rob Cohen’s jittery direction.

Released on Blu-ray & DVD by Entertainment in Video on Monday 6th May.

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