It's a Hollywood truism that nobody sets out to make a bad movie, but how else to explain a debacle like "Alex Cross"? This overwrought, oppressively violent police thriller has not got an original bone in its empty little head. From its cliché opening -- an irrelevant gun battle and chase - to its derivative climax, this is a film with decades of dust on it.

In the title role, Tyler Perry trades Madea's gaudy XXXL house dress for a Detroit police psychologist's drab trench coat. He plays Cross as a bulldog crime fighter on the job and a goodhearted puppy dog at home.

The story pits Cross against an elite assassin ("Lost's" Matthew Fox in a sneering, obnoxious performance), killing executives of billionaire Jean Reno's Detroit-based multinational. The hit man's fee is $3 million, and it's shocking how little your money buys these days. He leaves behind clue-laden sketches of his victims, drives a car whose OnStar security system is a snap to track, and chooses not to kill Cross when he has a perfect opportunity.

"Alex Cross" lacks the elements needed to generate anxiety and suspense. Instead, the movie goes for disorienting action scenes and cleaver-to-the-head shock effects.