Dr. Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) is a psychologist and police lieutenant who lives in Detroit with his wife Maria (Carmen Ejogo) and their children. After learning Maria is pregnant, Cross considers accepting a job as an FBI profiler. Meanwhile, a man (Matthew Fox) participates in an underground fighting match and seduces businesswoman Fan Yau (Stephanie Jacobsen). The man is invited to Yau's house, where he kills her.
At the crime scene, Cross finds a charcoal sketch left behind by the killer in the style of the artist Picasso, leading to the murderer being nicknamed after him. While examining the sketch, Cross deduces that Picasso's next target is German businessman Erich Nunemarcher (Werner Daehn). Picasso attempts to kill Nunemarcher but is foiled by Cross, and escapes after being shot by Cross's partner Tommy Kane (Edward Burns). Cross deduces that Picasso also plans to target billionaire CEO Giles Mercier (Jean Reno).
As revenge for foiling his attack on Nunemarcher, Picasso attacks Cross and Kane's colleague, Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols), torturing her to death. Picasso then tracks down Cross, who is on a date with Maria, and kills her with a sniper rifle.
Picasso targets Nunemarcher and Mercier at a conference, killing Nunemarcher and seemingly Mercier. Cross and Kane track Picasso to the abandoned Michigan Theater. As Cross and Picasso fight, they fall through the crumbling theater ceiling. Picasso falls to his death, but Kane helps pull Cross to safety.
Cross deduces Picasso's employer was Mercier himself. Having embezzled money from his clients, Mercier asked for Yau and Nunemarcher's help to fake his death and flee to Bali, then hired Picasso to eliminate them and a double pretending to be the real Mercier. After Cross frames Mercier for drug smuggling, Mercier is arrested in Indonesia, where he will be condemned to death by firing squad. Having avenged Maria's murder, Cross decides to accept the job offer from the FBI and move to Washington with his family.
A reboot of the Alex Cross character began development in 2010, with a screenplay by Kerry Williamson and James Patterson. David Twohy was attached as director, and was set to rewrite the screenplay. In August 2010, Idris Elba was cast as Cross.
Towards the end of 2010, QED International purchased the rights, and initial screenplay by Williamson and Patterson. By January 2011, Tyler Perry had replaced Elba in the starring role, and Cohen was hired as director. QED set Marc Moss, who worked on the previous Alex Cross films, to refine the screenplay for Perry and Cohen. With a production budget of $35 million, filming began on August 8, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio and lasted until September 16, 2011. Filming locations in northeast Ohio served as a backdrop to Detroit, Michigan, where the character works for the Detroit Police Department. After Ohio, filming also took place in Detroit itself for two weeks.
Fox developed an extremely muscular physique for his role as Picasso, and lost most of his body fat.
Summit Entertainment purchased domestic distribution rights in March 2011, and set the release date for October 26, 2012.
The theatrical release poster featured the tagline, "Don't ever cross Alex Cross." The Playlist at indieWire was critical of the tagline, saying, "It'll be impressive if anything dumber appears on a movie poster this year."'
The film opened in 2,539 theaters in North America, grossing $11,396,768 during its first weekend, with an average of $4,489 per theater, and ranking #5 at the box office. The film ultimately earned $25,888,412 domestically and $8,730,455 internationally, for a total of $34,618,867, on a $35 million production budget.
Alex Cross was highly panned by critics. It received a "rotten" score of 12% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 119 reviews, with an average rating of 3.5 out of 10. The critical consensus states: "Tyler Perry and Matthew Fox do their best, but they're trampled by Rob Cohen's frustrating direction and a tasteless, lazily written screenplay." At Metacritic, the film received a score of 30 out of 100, based on 34 reviews. Audiences, however, gave Alex Cross an "A" CinemaScore. The film earned a Razzie Award nomination for Perry as Worst Actor.
Prior to the film's release, it was announced that Double Cross would be adapted into a film, with Perry reprising his role. However, the film was cancelled after Alex Cross was a box office flop.