The first trailer for detective hero Alex Cross has been released and features former Lost star Matthew Fox as his fans have never seen him before.

The former Party of Five heartthrob has undergone a physical transformation almost on a par with that of Christain Bale in The Machinist and The Fighter, dropping pounds of body fat for a drawn, lean physique.

Fox plays the villain in the film, which continues the adventures of Alex Cross, the detective featured in the popular novels of James Patterson.

Morgan Freeman has played the character of Cross in previous adaptations, Kiss the Girls (1997) and Along Came a Spider (2001), but he has stepped down for this film and been replaced by Tyler Perry.

Perry is best known in the US for his hugely popular Madea series of films, in which he performs as an old lady, making the Alex Cross role a significant change of pace.

A glimpse at the trailer explains Freeman's absence. This is a considerably more action-packed film than the previous two efforts, with Cross embroiled in a game of cat and mouse with Fox's sadistic killer, who claims that "inflicting pain is part of his true calling".

Perry will have his work cut out to impress Cross fans, many of whom reacted with excitement to early rumours that the Cross mantle would be taken up by Luther star Idris Elba. However Elba later dropped out of the project, raising concerns that Perry was second choice.

By the look of the trailer, Perry has not wilted under the pressure, giving a noticeably more physical portrayal of the character than previously seen. The action is directed by Rob Cohen, the creater of The Fast and the Furious and not a director famed for his understatement.

Alex Cross will be released in November.

Matthew Fox fans will be shocked by his appearance in Alex Cross (ABC/QED International)