Alex Cross

This film image released by Summit Entertainment shows Tyler Perry in the title role during a scene from "Alex Cross." (AP Photo/Summit Entertainment)

Summit Entertainment

It doesn’t take a detective to determine it’s not the fault of Tyler Perry that “Alex Cross” is subpar.

In fact, it’s not the fault of most of the actors. But screenwriters Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson, who produced the laughable dialogue, and director Robert Cohen are highly suspect. Based loosely on James Patterson’s book “Cross,” this is made-for-TV silliness instead of a true dramatic thriller.

Even Morgan Freeman, who played Dr. Alex Cross in the superior “Kiss the Girls” and “Along Came a Spider,” couldn’t have saved this mess.

Here we meet Cross just as he is considering joining the FBI. For the present, he’s a detective and a psychologist who needs take only one look at his wife Maria (Carmen Ejogo) to figure out what she has done all day. Cross is among three investigators (including Rachel Nichols and Edward Burns) who are on the trail of a vicious serial killer called “Picasso” (Matthew Fox), because he leaves sketches at each grisly scene.

It doesn’t take Cross long to determine where the killer will strike next, but this means that the investigators themselves will become his targets. Along the way, ridiculous situations strain the credibility of the audience until, ultimately, it snaps.

There are few surprises along the way except for the ridiculous lines uttered by the characters. A critical fight scene should have been one of the film’s highlights, but instead it’s one of the reasons the show is less than mediocre: The audience simply can’t tell what’s going on because Cohen inexplicably chooses to use the “shaky cam” approach during the sequence — and that’s surprising, because he has directed solid actioners such as “The Fast and the Furious” previously.

Perry doesn’t seem to be as comfortable here as he does when he’s portraying a character of his own making. He’s not a bad actor, certainly, but he certainly doesn’t fit the role of an action hero and seems clumsy transitioning to this kind of character. Idris Elba, who originally was supposed to star in this show and seemed to beautifully fit the Cross character, most likely is grateful that he hasn’t cluttered up his resume with this.

Potential viewers will be grateful that they didn’t spend their hard-earned cash on a less-than-stellar production.