When you’re thinking small, indie film with lots of talking, writer-director Edward Burns might not be the first person who comes to mind.
But he’s up there.
So it’s odd to see him buffed up playing Robin to Tyler Perry’s Batman in the new cop thriller Alex Cross.
Based on the long-running James Patterson crime series, the film stars Perry as criminal profiler Alex Cross (who was first played onscreen by Morgan Freeman) and Burns as Cross’s childhood pal, Tommy Kane.
Now detectives on the Detroit police force, the pair join forces to hunt down a homicidal hitman nicknamed Picasso and played by a sinewy Matthew Fox.
“Matthew looks like a crazy person in this movie,” Burns said during an interview at TIFF last month.
And while Freeman’s incarnation of Cross in 1997’s Kiss the Girls and 2001’s Along Came a Spider was more procedural, Burns promises this latest version is wall-to-wall action.
“This film is real different from the Freeman versions; plus it’s directed by Rob Cohen who did Fast and the Furious and xXx, so it’s fast paced,” he said. “This is a straight-up action movie.”
The big question, though, is what will Perry fans make of his transition from the dress-up hijinks of the Madea movies to a no-nonsense cop in Alex Cross?
“Tyler kicks ass,” Burns said. “I’ve seen it and people are going to really dig him in this.”
The pairing on set worked so well it translated over into real life, with Perry influencing Burns’s upcoming work in The Fitzgerald Family Christmas.
“Tyler told me he was a fan of Brothers McMullen and he asked me why after 15 years, I hadn’t revisited the Irish-American world that film depicted. That led to conversations about how a filmmaker should be a brand. He said to me, ‘Look at what I do. I always have my audience in mind.’ And he suggested to me that if I went back and made another film that looked at that world, I’d have a lot of success with it. The minute he said that I thought, ‘This guy is absolutely right.’
“I sat down, opened up my laptop and started writing. Six weeks later, I had the first draft of the script that would be my next film – The Fitzgerald Family Christmas.”
Alex Cross is in theatres now. The Fitzgerald Family Christmas will be released next month.