Monthly Archives: August 2013

Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Assassin!

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ALEX CROSS (2012) Director: Rob Cohen Starring: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Rachel Nichols, Cicely Tyson, Jean Reno Rating: PG-13 for violence, gunplay, torture, and a ridiculous amount of General Motors product placement. 

Readers of mystery novels have probably heard of Alex Cross. For those of you who don’t know who he is, let me sprinkle some knowledge fertilizer on your mind grapes.

Created by prodigious author James Patterson, Alex Cross is a homicide cop/forensic psychologist who has battled bad guys and psychos in over a dozen novels. Like Sherlock Holmes, Cross is a master of deductive reasoning, so he can tell what you had for breakfast by the way you walk and knows how tall a killer is by looking at a crime scene photo. He must be a blast at parties!

Thanks to Hollywood (The movie makin’ folks!), the character Alex Cross has been in two movies, Kiss the Girls (1997) and Along Came a Spider (2001). In both  movies, Cross was played by veteran actor and narrator of everything Morgan Freeman.

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Hello. I’m Morgan Freeman. I can read aloud the owners manual for a John Deere X700 Lawn Tractor and it will be amazing.

Since there are so many Alex Cross books to draw material from, it was inevitable that Hollywood (The movie makin’ folks, remember?) would make another film about the cunning detective. Since Morgan Freeman was probably busy narrating something at the time, they chose another actor to take over the role.

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This guy.

Relax everyone.  Tyler Perry left the wig and dress at home to play hard nosed detective Alex Cross in Alex Cross, which is a shame because it would have been a real hoot watching Madea put the smackdown on the brutal assassin/serial killer who is making Cross’ life and the lives of everyone around him a complete nightmare.

But since the movie makin’ folks never take my advice, we have to settle for regular old non dress wearing Tyler Perry in Alex Cross.

Fine.

As the film opens, Alex Cross (Perry) is loving life as a top Detective in sunny Detroit. And why not? He’s got a beautiful wife, two great kids, and a supportive Mom.  But before things turn into the best Insurance commercial ever, Cross and his partner Kane (Edward Burns) are called to a crime scene where the victim has been brutally tortured and the killer has left behind a clue in a chalk drawing done in the style of the late great Pablo Picasso. Cross deduces from the clue who the next victim is, and because he is a brilliant movie detective, dubs the killer “Picasso”, because “murder/torture guy” doesn’t have the right ring to it and is probably a character in another Alex Cross book.

And so begins a cat and mouse game between Cross and Picasso, a psychotic assassin who is targeting French Industrialist Giles Mercier (Jean Reno)and will stop at nothing to get him.

Picasso is played by Matthew Fox (that Lost series) who according to production notes went on a strict exercise and diet program to play the super ripped bad guy. Since Fox plays Picasso as a bug eyed lunatic who walks around like a coiled cobra ready to strike, it’s obvious he was half out of his mind from hunger while filming. I bet the poor guy had to be physically restrained from charging the snack table between takes.

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Is that a… jelly doughnut?

Things get messy in the second half of the movie when Picasso, who has a huge problem with nosy cops who want to stop him from maiming and killing, begins targeting Cross’ family for maiming and killing. Will Cross keep it together long enough to stop Picasso, or will he put the law in his back pocket and take out this maniac his own way?

And no, he doesn’t dress up as Madea and put the smackdown on the killer like I wanted him to because as I said before the movie makin’ folks don’t take my advice!

They don’t return my e-mails either. Thanks a lot, stupid court order!

Alex Cross isn’t a particularly exciting or original crime thriller type movie. Matter of fact, it’s not very good at all.

But, if you’re home one night with your best pals and are looking for a good time, pop Alex Cross into the DVD player, pass out the shot glasses, and play the Alex Cross General Motors Product Placement Drinking Game!

Do a shot every time a GM vehicle (Cadillac, GMC, Chevy, etc) appears on screen.

Do a shot when a logo of a GM vehicle appears  on screen.

Do a shot when the characters actually discuss the OnStar navigation system – available on many GM vehicles – during a freaking car chase!

Do a shot when the name of a GM vehicle is mentioned in a song playing in the background in a scene!

If you’re still conscious when the end credits roll, you are my hero.

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There’s Always Room for J-Lo!

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PARKER (2013) Director: Taylor Hackford Starring: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Nick Nolte Rating: R for violence, bad language, lots of fake blood, and a few shots of Lopez in her undies.

If you’ve read this blog before (and you have my deepest sympathies) you know that as far as I am concerned professional thief is one of the greatest jobs you can have in a movie. You get to wear disguises (depending on the job), your co-workers are known as your “crew,” which is a very cool, and best of all there’s lots of great stuff for you to take because movies are full of stuff!

But as the title character of the crime thriller Parker finds out, professional burglary isn’t all fun and games. There’s betrayal, murder, and worst of all, you might wind up in Florida!

FLORIDA!

You can count me out right there, Mister!

Super thief extraordinaire Parker has just pulled off a daring robbery with a crew if guys he’s never worked with before. They seem like decent fellows, until their leader Melander (Michael Chiklis) makes Parker an offer he can’t refuse: use the money they just stole to finance their next job (a jewelry heist that’s worth millions) or die. When Parker turns down their offer because he’s got a thing that week and his new partners are treacherous dicks, he’s shot and left for dead on the side of the road.

Not to worry DVD viewers! You see, Parker is played by indestructible action star Jason Statham, a man who’s basically Wolverine minus the claws and Elvis haircut, so you know something as trivial as a gunshot won’t stop him from getting even.

Determined to get his money back and put a world of hurt on Melander, Parker gets some info from his mentor Hurley (Nick Nolte ) that leads him to New Orleans, where he beats up some guys and finds out Melander and company are going to pull off their big heist in Palm Beach, Florida. Against Hurley’s warnings to let things be and lay low for a while with his best gal Claire (Emma Booth), Parker heads to Palm Beach to double cross the guys who double crossed him, and maybe ride a jet ski or play some golf.

Pretending to be a rich oil man from Texas, Parker dons a Yosemite Sam sized cowby hat and hooks up with Leslie Rodgers (THE Jennifer Lopez), a debt ridden real estate agent desperate for commission to show him some rental properties around Palm Beach.  Parker is hoping Leslie will lead him to the house Melander is using to plan his robbery, and Leslie is hoping Parker is single and has a thing for broke, divorced gals who live with their Mothers.  But Parker has no time for love because not only has Melander found out that Parker is alive, but through some mob connections has dispatched a ruthless hit-man to take out Parker, Claire, their neighbors, the kid who delivers their paper every morning, Parker’s fifth grade teacher, Claire’s cat Mr. Whiskers…you get the idea.

Parker finds his former crew’s hideout and discovers Melander’s plans to steal $50 million in jewels from a huge auction taking place in a few days. But before Parker can let his inner Statham run loose, Leslie informs Parker she knows he’s not a rich Texan (maybe it was his English accent) and demands a cut of whatever Parker steals from Melander. Oh, and the hit-man shows up too, which is just dandy because Parker doesn’t have enough shit going on in his life!

As Melander’s crew steals the diamonds, Parker sets his revenge plan in motion, and things get really messy in some rented house in Palm Beach. I seriously doubt Melander is going to get his cleaning deposit back.

Parker isn’t wall to wall butt kicking compared to some of Jason Statham’s previous action epics, but the Sta-man does put the smackdown on some baddies from time to time, and the story has enough going on to keep you interested.  Mega superstar Jennifer Lopez does a pretty good job in a minor role, and as I mentioned she does get to show off her trademark booty, which is fine if you’re into trademarked body parts like the aforementioned booty.

It’s just…

Look, the movie could have used a bit more kicking. It’s what Statham does. It’s his thing!

Just saying.

Cruisin’ for a Bruisin!

Jack Reacher

JACK REACHER (2012) Director: Christopher McQuarrie Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, and Robert Duvall Rating: PG-13 for hand to hand violence, gun to gun violence, car to car violence, but no bad language, this is PG-13 after all!

Five people are brutally gunned down by a sniper in Pittsburgh, PA. The Police follow a trail of clues that lead to a former Army Sniper named James Barr (Joseph Sikora). With overwhelming evidence stacked up against Barr, District Attorney Rodin  (Richard Jenkins) believes he has an open and shut case. Even Barr’s defense lawyer Helen Rodin (who is daughter of the D.A.) doubts she can do anything to save her client from death row.

But the frightened Barr knows he has only one chance to clear his name, so he makes one request: “Get Jack Reacher.”

Who is Jack Reacher?

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Hey. It’s Jack Reacher. I’m coming over to beat the crap out of you. Is 9:30 okay?

Jack Reacher, as played by some guy named Tom Cruise, is one of those action movie characters you don’t want coming after you. A former military police officer, Reacher is Sherlock Holmes, Jason Bourne, and Keyser Soze rolled into one 5 foot tall package.

Just kidding. Tom Cruise is ginormous.

Honorably discharged from the Army, Reacher wanders around the country helping people who need help and kicking the asses of people who need their asses kicked.  Since he had a previous run in with Barr back in their Army days, Reacher knows Barr is capable of such a terrible crime, but like any good movie detective he has a feeling in his well sculpted six pack abs that something isn’t right. Since she has nothing to lose and apparently doesn’t know any other detective in Pittsburgh, Helen (Rosamund Pike and her cleavage)decides to let the mysterious drifter who is really good at beating people investigate the crime and help her clear her client’s name.

Jack Reacher  moves along at a decent pace as Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher slowly begins to unravel the conspiracy surrounding the sniper killings; a conspiracy that involves crooked cops, evil thugs who drive sweet muscle cars, and a mysterious German guy (Werner Herzog) who really enjoys giving speeches to people before killing them.  Veteran actor Robert Duvall  shows up towards the end of the film to provide Reacher with key evidence and plot exposition in that awesomely folksy Robert Duvall southern drawl that makes any regular old movie so much better. Seriously, if Robert Duvall was in the Twilight movies, I would have been camped out in front of the theater with the rest of the Twihards.

Because I hate Twilight and have never seen every Twilight movie seven times and don’t have a Team Edward tramp stamp. And now it’s awkward.

Anyhoo, Jack Reacher is a pretty good crime thriller with a satisfying conclusion that happens to feature superstar Tom Cruise.

On the DVD Critics Corner Tom Cruise Movie Scale (pat. pend), it’s not as Tom Cruise-y as Oblivion, the Mission Impossible movies or Knight and Day, but it is more Tom Cruise-y than The Last Samurai and Collateral.

I know what you’re thinking…what about Vanilla Sky? 

Dude. The less you think about Vanilla Sky the better.

Trust me.