Homicide detective/psychiatrist Dr. Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) and his fellow detectives Tommy Kane (Ed Burns) and Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols) chase through an abandoned building in Detroit. After a lengthy pursuit, Cross tackles and apprehends a man. It turns out the man abducted and killed a number of women, and Cross and his team managed to save his latest victim.
After leaving the crime scene, Cross visits a seventeen-year-old girl named Pop Pop (Simenona Martinez) who has been charged with a double homicide. Cross knows Pop Pop is taking the fall for her drug dealer uncle, but he cannot convince her to recant her confession.
Cross returns home and dotes upon his daughter Janelle (Yara Shahidi) and trades loving barbs with his grandmother, Nana Mama (Cicely Tyson). His wife Maria (Carmen Ejogo) comes home, and she asks Cross if he can tell what’s new about her. Cross makes a series of casual observations based on Maria’s appearance, and it becomes obvious he has powers of deduction to rival those of Sherlock Holmes. Finally, though, he notices a picture of a sonogram in their printer’s tray; Maria is pregnant with the couple’s third child. Alex beams at the happy news.
Somewhere across town, Picasso (Matthew Fox) pulls up to a decrepit building. He receives a wire transfer for several million dollars and instructions from his boss; he knows where to find his target - a woman - and he needs to take care of her. Picasso enters the building, a front for an underground mixed martial arts fighting arena. He convinces the manager of the arena to let him fight by betting a large sum of money on himself to win and offering the manager a kickback. No one thinks that Picasso (a well-muscled but relatively lean man) stands a chance against the much bigger current champion. Picasso gives Fan Yau (Stephanie Jacobsen), a woman in the crowd, a lingering look before thoroughly trouncing his opponent. After the match, Fan takes Picasso back to her mansion. Her numerous bodyguards search Picasso before allowing him upstairs with their boss. Fan and Picasso begin having sex, and Picasso convinces Fan to let him tie her up with her stockings. As soon as she’s immobile, he jabs her in the neck with a syringe full of a sedative.
Cross receives a phone call at home. His boss, Captain Richard Brookwell (John C. McGinley), calls him to a crime scene--Fan Yau and all of her bodyguards have been brutally murdered. Cross calls Tommy, who was having sex with Monica. Tommy tells Cross to pick him up. He feels badly for lying to Cross about his whereabouts, but he knows his longtime friend would frown upon his romantic relationship with a colleague. He and Monica have only been seeing each other for a few months, but their feelings for one another are already strong. When Cross picks Tommy up, he immediately guesses where Tommy has really been, and he chastises his partner for mixing business and pleasure. Tommy offers to transfer off of their squad, which surprises Cross. Cross admits he wants to accept a job offer from the FBI, but he doesn’t know if Maria will be happy about it, because they would have to move.
When Cross and Tommy arrive at the crime scene, Cross deduces that one well-trained killer perpetuated all of the carnage they see. They find Fan in the bedroom, with all of her fingers severed from her body. A flashback reveals that Picasso cut off Fan’s thumb before giving her “nine more chances” to tell him where she hid her computer, which presumably contains valuable information. Fan quickly tells him her computer’s hidden location, but Picasso continues to cut off her fingers anyway. Back in the present, Cross and Tommy find a sketch that Picasso left beside Fan’s bed; it is drawn in the abstract style of the actual Picasso, and it features Fan tied to her bed. Cross notes that the murderer used charcoal and that he is a talented artist. He and Tommy discover an expensive bracelet that belonged to Fan, and they decide she must have a safe hidden somewhere in the room. They locate the safe and must use one of Fan’s severed thumbs on a fingerprint reader to access its contents. Inside, they find a thumb drive, which could indicate why someone would kill Fan in such a brutal manner.
Back at the precinct, Monica, Tommy, and Cross discuss what they know about Fan Yau: the 28-year-old Taiwanese nationalist earned an MBA in her native country before winning a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, which she abandoned after a few months. Fan died of shock her heart stopped and she had an injection mark in her neck. While Cross examines Picasso’s drawing, some tech guys reveal that most of Fan’s emails came from Erich Nunemacher and Leon Mercier. Nunemacher and Mercier, Cross reveals, are the C.E.O. and C.O.O. of a Forbes 500 businessand Nunemacher is Picasso’s next target. Cross notices the initials ‘E.N.’ sketched into Picasso’s drawing, so the team leaps into action to rescue the German businessman.
When they arrive at Nunemacher’s office building, the German security guards won’t let Cross, Tommy, or Monica go past the front desk, even when Cross says Nunemacher’s life might be in danger. A security guard suddenly exclaims that the building’s water pressure has begun to drop, and the detectives realize that Fan Yau’s killer has already arrived. They race upstairs to find Nunemacher (Werner Daehn). Cross tries to warn Nunemacher of his impending doom, but the conceited German businessman dismisses his concern. Alarms begin to go off, so Cross and the security guards race out of Nunemacher’s office to investigate. Tommy and Monica try to force Nunemacher to stay put. Elsewhere on the same floor, Picasso uses a blowtorch to cut himself out of a water pipe. He bursts out of the pipe, finds and stabs Nunemacher, and manages to take out several guards too. Cross manages to corner Picasso and bellows at the killer to drop his weapons. Unfortunately, Picasso manages to drop kick a grenade in Cross’s direction, and Cross loses his suspect in the ensuing explosion. Tommy does manage to shoot Picasso as he flees back into the pipe, which leads back to a sewer system.
Picasso returns to his lair, does some intense pull ups, and curses and glowers at pictures of Cross, Tommy, and Monica. Across town at their precinct, the trio of detectives go over their day with Brookwell. Mercier and Nunemacher, who survived the stabbing, are both at Mercier’s home, heavily guarded. No witnesses have stepped forward, but Picasso did drip blood when he fled, so they now have his DNA. Cross comes up with a profile of Picasso: a crazily bitter ex-Special Ops agent who wants to make the world feel his pain. He also believes the killer has been targeting people close to Mercier, because Mercier is his ultimate target. Cross, Tommy, and Monica pay Mercier and Nunemacher a visit. While Mercier (Jean Reno) gladly shows Cross his plans to revitalize the city of Detroit with halogen energy, he cannot guess who would want to kill him. After speaking with Cross for some time, Mercier feels confident he can catch Fan Yau’s murderer.
That night, Monica returns to her apartment, where Picasso lies in wait for her. Cross goes on a date with Maria and tries to convince her that his job with the FBI will be a good thing. Maria doesn’t want to leave her job or her life in Detroit, and Cross doesn’t improve her attitude when he takes a phone call from Monica. After a few moments of silence, Picasso greets Cross and sends him a picture of Monica, bloodied and bound. Picasso wants Cross to psychoanalyze him, but he becomes upset when Cross guesses how much he likes torturing people. He becomes even angrier when Cross asks him about the first people or creatures he hurt. Picasso moves to a window, revealing that he is not at Monica’s apartment any longerhe is across from the restaurant where Cross took Maria, and he has Cross in the crosshairs of his rifle. But instead of shooting him, Picasso turns his gun on Maria and shoots her in the chest. Cross runs to his wife’s side, but she dies in his arms.
Cross is inconsolable. Picasso watches Maria’s funeral and draws a sketch of the mourning detective.
After the funeral, Tommy rants to Cross about the sedative with which Picasso injected Monica. It was made of exotic ingredients, probably concocted locally, and it paralyzed Monica while still allowing her to feel everything. Nana Mama tells Cross that Janelle is crying in her room and that she needs him. Even though he manages to comfort his daughter, Cross cannot overcome his thirst for revenge. When Picasso calls him and taunts him about Maria’s murder, Cross makes up his mind. He goes into his basement to saw the barrel off of a shotgun. Nana Mama tries to stop him from hunting Picasso, but he doesn’t listen to her. Cross and Tommy visit Pop Pop’s uncle at his car dealership, because, as a drug dealer, the uncle knows all of the best chemists in Detroit. Cross promises to tamper with the evidence and get Pop Pop’s charges dismissed if the uncle gives him the name of the chemist who helped Picasso, and the uncle takes the deal. Tommy and Cross find and attack the chemist, and he eventually shows them footage of Picasso entering his building. Tommy notes Picasso’s license plate, and another detective at the precinct helps Cross and Tommy track Picasso’s car using its GPS. Picasso is downtownand so is Mercier, who is giving a speech at the courthouse.
Brookwell secures the perimeter of the courthouse, and he refuses to let Cross or Tommy enter the building. Picasso climbs aboard a train. Cross tries to “get inside” the murder’s head. He hears the blaring horn of a train. Picasso pulls a bazooka from his bag and aims it out of the window. Cross realizes the assassin’s plan just as the train passes and Picasso fires the bazooka, destroying the front of the courthouse and killing Mercier. The trains continues onwards, and Cross and Tommy decide to go to where Picasso has parked his car, figuring that he will return to it to escape. Picasso climbs into his car and drives down the street. Cross sees Picasso’s car and rams it with his own. He and Tommy chase Picasso into an abandoned theater, where Picasso and Cross fight each other. Picasso knocks Cross to the ground, but just as Picasso is about to jab Cross with a syringe full of the sedative, Cross stabs him. The men tumble over a ledge, and Cross lets Picasso fall. Tommy reaches him in time and pulls him to safety.
Cross has one more thing to do before Maria is avenged--find the man who hired Picasso. It turns out to be Mercier, who hired a double to go to the courthouse the day of his supposed assassination. Mercier embezzled money from his company, and he needed to make an escape. He hired Picasso to kill Fan Yau and Nunemacher because they both helped him plot his escape. Mercier fled to Singapore, where there is no extradition to the United States, so he does not think Cross can do anything to hurt him. However, Cross hired someone to plant cocaine in Mercier’s house, and he tipped off the local authorities to Mercier’s whereabouts. The punishment for drug smuggling in Singapore is death by firing squad, so Mercier will die like Maria.
Tommy drives Cross home. Cross has taken the FBI job in Washington D.C. The two best friends will miss working together, however, Tommy hands Cross his own FBI application, so hopefully they will be together again someday. Cross walks up the porch of his house and watches Janelle and Nana Mama pack, and he smiles.
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