Movie Review: "Crossing Over"

Rated: R for pervasive language, some strong violence and sexuality/nudity.

Release Date: 02.27.2009 NY and/or LA

Starring: Alice Braga, Ray Liotta, Harrison Ford, Sean Penn

Director(s): Wayne Kramer

Film Genre: Drama

Crossing Over had the potential to be one of the better films of the new year. It possesses some strong acting by a talented cast led by Harrison Ford and a socially relevant story line, but unfortunately it was all squandered away in the hands of helmer Wayne Kramer (The Cooler). Ultimately, the film feels like a counterfeit version of Crash and Babel from Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu. There are some commendable and engaging moments, but not enough to ignore the defects of its second hour.

Here’s the plot—Crossing Over is a multi-character canvas about immigrants of different nationalities struggling to achieve legal status in Los Angeles. The film, seen from the perspective of the INS, deals with the border, document fraud, the asylum and green card process, work-site enforcement, naturalization, the office of counter terrorism and the clash of cultures. There are several stories that eventually intertwine at the very end.

A noteworthy mention should be given to Kramer’s implementation of immigrants as not just poor, working class Mexicans, but as a distinct representation of classes and nationalities. Also, perhaps the best acting scenes of the film came from Summer Bishil, who is part Mexican, playing Taslima Jahangir, an Iranian teenager who approves of the motives behind the 9/11 attacks. It was all working out nicely as a dramatic and enticing piece of film until it suddenly became an action thriller, giving way to Ford summoning President James Marshall from ‘Air Force One’. Where did that come from?

In an effort to not reveal too much, we are only going to say this—Kramer would like us to believe that the lives of these characters are crisscrossed and interwoven by accident or fate, but halfway thru the end, you can sense the manipulative machinations and moralistic intent of the calculated plot. There goes Hollywood again trying to insult our intelligence.

A remake of this film in the hands of Iñárritu would be interesting to see, but we highly doubt that idea is an option. At best, Crossing Over is halfway engaging, but not worth the ticket or the time. Wait for it on Netflix.