And there are plenty of those in "Cross," which on some level wants to be a "Silence of the Lambs"-ish spectacle offering girl torture and a colorful serial killer, all while staying within the confines of a PG-13 rating.
The psycho here (emaciated Matthew Fox) announces himself by binding, drugging and then carving up a helpless woman, a sequence that culminates with the poor gal's fingers in a bowl (when this guy says he got her digits, he means it).
It's a measure of just how flat-footed "Cross" is that director Rob Cohen tries to shock us with this prologue, then plays the bowl of fingers for slapstick laughs not five minutes later.
"Alex Cross" turns out to be massively confused about everything - what kind of mood it wants to sustain, what kind of character Cross is.
Cross is meant to be an intuitive genius on the order of Sherlock Holmes, but there is no plot here to show us his alleged powers of deductive reasoning.
Instead, additional killings (expendable actress alert!) turn Cross into a rampaging vigilante, and the movie can't make this sale either - the action here is about as dull as you'll ever see in a movie that costs this much money.
Where did the money come from? General Motors, apparently. Director Cohen contorts nearly every scene so as to feature a Cadillac, Tahoe or Suburban - it appears to be his top priority.
We understand the movie is set in the Motor City, and that taxpayers are still on the hook for a billion or so. But if you want to help GM, you have to make a better movie than this.
Contact movie critic Gary Thompson at 215-854-5992 or email@example.com. Read his blog at philly.com/KeepItReel.