Oh, how far has Harrison Ford fallen? Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was supposed to resurrect his career, but instead it just seemed to reaffirm people's suspicions that he is a bit of a has-been, a man whose best movies are behind him. Personally, I believe he still has a few good years left in him, but Crossing Over does little to back up my position.
In Crossing Over, Ford is but one of an ensemble cast that includes the likes of Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe) and Summer Bishil (Towelhead), among others. I like the idea of Ford playing a smaller role, as going the supporting route allows actors to reestablish credibility and play characters he or she might otherwise not get to play. However, if you're going to do an ensemble part, at least play a character that is at least marginally interesting.
Here, Ford plays an immigration officer with a heart. He feels bad for the people he's locking up and sending back across the border, though his character isn't actually interesting enough to do something about it. Had this been Ford's movie, Crossing Over would have focused entirely on the relationship between he and his partner (Cliff Curtis) and the dynamic that is created once his partner is involved in a rather bloody and controversial shooting. The story had potential to be really good, but Crossing Over, in reality, is an ensemble piece, and there just isn't enough time to develop a compelling suspense thriller. Instead, Ford's character - and his story - are the least memorable and the most disappointing.
Two other primary stories are at play here, each good in their own right but wholly undeveloped to where they can sustain the movie. In one, an immigration paper-pusher (Liotta) discovers that the beautiful young Aussie (Alice Eve) is trying to obtain work in the United States illegally, and he uses this to his advantage, by forcing her to have an affair with her. There's potential here for some pretty messed up stuff, but you soon realize that the story is there to fulfill the fantasies of writer/director Wayne Kramer and show Eve naked, which, admittedly, is not the worst thing in the world.
In another, a teenage girl (Bishil) who is entirely American other than that she doesn't have legal status, becomes the target of the FBI and INS when she voices compassion for the September 11 hijackers. Despite growing up in the country, she could be deported to her home country even though she doesn't speak the language or know the culture. Kramer ignores the fact that this girl should have been smart enough to know that supporting the 9/11 hijackers would not go over well. Again, there's promise in this story, but Kramer never gives the story enough depth to make it seem like anything more than a political statement.
And that's what Crossing Over is: a political statement. The immigration system is messed up and perfectly good people fall victim to it. This is a fine message to have, as we all know that the immigration system is screwy, but Kramer comprises his stories with his message. As a result, Crossing Over barely garnered a theatrical release and Kramer's message reached almost no one.
In reality, Crossing Over is perfectly watchable and mildly entertaining, with decent performances from all involved. But it wants to be Crash without the connectivity or storytelling power of Paul Haggis. The movie is a bunch of stories, but they are too random to care about any of them. Had Kramer settled down and focused on one individual plot, he has the skills to develop an authentic film; but as is, Crossing Over just doesn't feel authentic.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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