The reviews for “Alex Cross” are in and they aren’t pretty. The reboot of the James Patterson crime franchise, explored previously with Morgan Freeman in the title role, is getting negative reviews from a majority of critics even as its poised to have a strong debut weekend at the box office. For Tyler Perry, “Cross” is a new adventure. The one-man franchise has been directed onscreen by another director only twice previously (“Star Trek,” “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”) and has arguably never starred in an action movie before. Was noted hack Rob Cohen the right man to helm “Cross”? It appears not, but cynical critics aside, Perry is much better as the Detroit detective than many will give him credit for (really).
Speaking to Perry a few weeks ago, he was excited about playing an action hero and not being in charge of the entire production. Perry admitted, “Just having an opportunity to show up and act and not have to take on the responsibility of everything else. And getting into the Krav Maga – the fighting – that was really cool. I kept it up long after the movie wrapped. I’m still doing it because that Israeli fighting technique is way awesome. It give me a tremendous sense of security and working with Matthew Fox and those fight scenes were really great.”
Perry’s onscreen adversary is a mentally deranged assassin played by an almost unrecognizable Matthew Fox. The former “Lost” star lost an amazing 40 pounds for the role, but Perry says he couldn’t really acknowledge it during production.
“I wanted to give him an apple or something ‘Dude, how much did you lose?’ But we didn’t talk. I never spoke to him about the weight loss. I never said one word to him,” Perry reveals. “When we met we shook hands and said ‘I’m Tyler and we’re not going to be talking during this.’ And he said, ‘Yep, I’m with you 100%.’ And we went in different directions. We shot the entire film that way.”
Having now seen the differences between making a comedy, drama and action picture up close, could a Perry-directed action film be in the man known as Madea’s future?
“I don’t know enough to do that. I’m not that kind of director,” Perry says.” I’m not sure I’ll ever direct an action movie. That’s a very special skill. It’s like doing Sci-Fi. I’d love to do it, but until I learn more about it I don’t now if I can.”
Already a rating success on TBS with his “Meet the Browns” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” sitcoms, Perry made news last month when it was revealed he’d entered into an exclusive partnership to create new shows with Oprah Winfrey’s fledgling OWN network. Perry revealed to HitFix that the shows will begin airing in May 2013 (yes, he’s as fast as ever) and that one is a drama (a first) and one is a sitcom. Perry adds, “It’s a partnership with the network. It’s about my whole catalog. It was a win, win situation for both of us. OWN needs content and I’m looking for my own network so, as I’m on my way to that I thought this was a great moment for me to stop…[and] work with them.”
You can find out more about Perry’s work in “Alex Cross” in the interview embedded at the top of this post. His comments on the new OWN deal are below.
“Alex Cross” opens nationwide Friday.