Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Crossing Over

Crossing Over
Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Cliff Curtis, Hamid Baraheri, Alice Braga,
Jim Sturgess, Alice Eve, Melody Khazae, Justin Chon and Summer Bishil

Rated: R pervasive language, some strong violence and sexuality/nudity
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: February 27, 2009 Released by: The Weinstein Company

This new ambitious drama stresses the importance of interconnectedness and working together when it comes to immigration. But, Crossing Over is hardly a well-rounded, affecting tale as the look from above on the intersecting freeways and highways of its Los Angeles setting demonstrates the need to emphasize its thematic content.

Starring Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, and Cliff Curtis, this motion picture from Wayne Kramer works well in getting into what motivates individuals of various nationalities and classes into being a U.S. citizen. It's just too hard not to get around the fact of the stories just not being joined in a more natural or less contrived manner, and the exploitative nature of some of them used to sensationalistic effect.

The aging Ford (who looked more youthful in Kingdom of Crystal Skull) is harried Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent Max Brogan who works with Iranian partner Hamid Baraheri (Curtis of Whale Rider). Liotta is immigration applications adjudicator Cole Frankel and Judd (Double Jeopardy) is Denise, Frankel's childless wife who handle multiple cases that are hardly clear-cut.

Initially, Ford's Brogan is involved in a heated situation where a Mexican sweatshop worker and mother (Alice Braga) is to be deported. The desperate woman reaches out to Brogan when it comes to the care of her young child.

Kramer, who originally hailed from South Africa, uses a struggling, attractive couple in one of his vignettes. A Brit, Gavin (Jim Sturgess of 21) toils while trying to become a musician while Aussie actress Claire (Alice Eve) idolizes Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts (and wants to follow in their footsteps) but will do whatever is necessary to become a legal citizen, even after her application disappears and just happens to get into an accident with Cole. Gavin, an atheist with Jewish inclinations, isn't too happy with Claire's decision process though his actions aren't very desirable, either.

The happenstance and fate woven picture also concerns the tough-minded sister of Hamid, Zahra (Melody Khazae), who suddenly perishes after Brogan is at their family gathering and has taken an interest in her.

The versatility in lives rendered extends to younger ones like teen Korean Yong Kim (Justin Chon) who is in a scenario similar to Gran Torino. A Bangladesh teen, Taslima (Summer Bishil of the controversial Towelhead), is a part of the most provocative strand as a high schooler whose unsettling essay relevant to homeland security threatens the welfare of her family.

This is the first time, or at least in a long while, that Ford is part of a larger ensemble. But, his mostly understated part doesn't really gel with the larger geopolitical issues and the current zeitgeist at hand. Brogan's commitment to allowing for the desired mobility just isn't a good fit for immigration substrate where the process can be even more detrimental than the time it takes to pass through the bureaucracy.

A low-rent version of Crash given its setting, Crossing Over might have a chance in larger urban venues. The climactic convocation in a major auditorium tries to give more emotional resonance from the interwoven events before them filled with moral fiber. Yet, the irony of the coincidences from all of the crisscrossing is just too literal and not credible to solidly boost a socially challenging issue. Another kindred picture with perhaps less aspirations like The Visitor accomplished a similar goal with more simplicity and, ultimately, more poignancy.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Crossing Over        C-               C   C- 

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