The character is the star of 20 books by author James Patterson, two films starring Freeman and now a third, the simply titled Alex Cross, with Tyler Perry in the lead role.
In the books and films Cross is a Washington D.C. cop with a Ph.D. in psychology. In other words, as he says in Kiss the Girls, “I’m a forensic psychologist. It’s a fancy way of saying I’m a guy who walks into a room like that and determines the hows and whys.”
Denise Richards channels her inner Tyler Perry
In the new film, Perry, best known as the director and star of the Madea comedies, squares off against a serial killer (Matthew Fox) who claims to have murdered one of the detective’s relatives.
The first Cross novel to make the leap to the big screen was Kiss the Girls, the second book in the series. Denzel Washington was originally set to star, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Morgan Freeman stepped in, starring opposite Ashley Judd.
In the film Cross’s niece disappears, the likely victim of Casanova, a kidnapper and killer of young women. Aiding Cross is Dr. Kate McTiernan (Judd), a surgeon, who narrowly escaped the sadomasochist killer’s grasp.
The movie was a hit with audiences, but not the critics, although Roger Ebert wrote that Freeman and Judd, “are so good, you almost wish they’d decided not to make a thriller at all… and had simply found a way to construct a drama exploring their personalities.”
The movie was withheld from release in central Virginia out of respect for the families of three girls who had been murdered in the area.
Four years later, despite some reservations, Freeman reprised the role. “I didn’t want to do the same thing twice,” he said, adding that he changed his mind because he realized he “liked Alex Cross. And the fact that he’s black is totally incidental. That’s a rare thing for a black actor to find.”
Along Came a Spider sees Cross solve the case of a kidnapped congressman’s daughter. Once again critics hated the film — which currently sits at 32 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes — but praised Freeman’s performance. New York Times scribe Elvis Mitchell called it “a classless, underdeveloped thriller,” but wrote that it “couldn’t be better served than it is by Mr. Freeman.”
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