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Get Tyler Perry on the phone!

When I read last year that Tyler Perry had signed to play the title role in Alex Cross, I remember thinking that Hollywood and Tyler Perry had won. After shoving stereotypes and bad screenplays down our throats for more than a decade, he’s broken through and is making his crossover debut as a Drama/Action star. Whoopty damn doo! We can keep with the party line that a Black man is starring in a movie or we can discuss how troubling his casting in this film is. His acolytes will applaud the fact that he’s taken over the role, optimists will reserve their opinion until seeing the movie, but the so-called cynics or chronic haters will decry his casting as nothing more than an attempt at boosting the box-office appeal of the film.

It’s been eleven years since Along Came a Spider hit theaters and fifteen since Kiss the Girls, so there is a legitimate fear that interest in the series may have declined, so a splash for the revamp was necessitated, hence Tyler Perry and his bankability. The first films starred Morgan Freeman, who at 75, could not plausibly handle the duties of a high-impact film. With 21 novels in the series, there was fertile ground to choose from, but with the long absence from theaters and new actor in the lead, the creative team completely rebooted the series. It has been updated for the more bang for your bucks cinematic time we’re in and creates the possibility that Perry may be cast for movies to come.

For those who haven’t read the books or seen the movies, Alex Cross is a psychologist and former D.C. homicide detective that goes on to become a FBI agent and ultimately settles into a career as a consultant to both law enforcement agencies. Let’s call him a profiler, à la “Criminal Minds”. There’s a sophistication and high-level intelligence that’s attached to this character, nuances that Tyler Perry’s characters lack in his production, a certain je ne sais quoi. Honestly, he’s the polar opposite of what the trailer portrays him to be, but the sophistication and nuanced minds of moviegoers has dwindled in those eleven years.

I know Photoshop when I see it!
Before Rob Cohen was brought in as director, Idris Elba was contracted to play the lead role, but was soon replaced by Tyler Perry. It’s still puzzling to think this change was made, because of the type of action involved in the film, but judging by Men’s Health this month, Tyler’s done a few sit-ups or seen a doctor. However, we’re still missing the point on translating the essence of “Alex Cross” onscreen; there are a number of talented actors that could capture the varying degrees of the character that were overlooked because they didn’t come with a built-in fan base.

I know Will Smith and Jamie Foxx don’t leave the house for less than $20 million, but Don Cheadle, Jeffrey Wright or Chiwetel Ejiofor would’ve been ideal for the role, even Forest Whitaker. Hell, I’d rather see Samuel L. Jackson yelling and cussin’ for 95 minutes than see Tyler Perry extend his machismo beyond its means. Seriously, have you heard his voice on the commercial? Dude, you’re not Rambo! I imagine the studio looked at the bottom line for Tyler Perry’s films and started to see green, as in the $51 million dollars his films average. A chance to establish a vehicle for a credible and trained actor of color has been forsaken for first week’s sales. What’s next, 50 Cent or The Rock cast as Othello?

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