Crossing Over


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

I don't know about you, but I've had up to here with message movies which create a rich and hokey tapestry of multi-ethnic life in L.A. by interweaving several stories which all take place during a short time period. If President Obama were to declare a moratorium on those, I would be his supporter for life. Well, maybe not for life. To get that degree of commitment, he would also have to deport Martin Short and David Schwimmer. Yes, I know that Schwimmer is an American, but there must be some place where we can send him. How about Antarctica? Aren't parts of that technically claimed by America? How about Gitmo?

Anyway ...

It's bad enough that the format itself is exhausted and hackneyed, but it's tragic that the format kept this film from being a pretty damned good one, which it might have been if the scriptwriter had decided to go with a more traditional structure, concentrating on the main storylines. By adding a load of weak and unrelated stories, the script manages to dilute its strengths, while dragging the running time out beyond the length which could be reasonably sustained by the content.

The central story involves Harrison Ford as a federal immigration officer, a field agent who specializes in catching and deporting illegals. One day he happens to bust a young woman who begs him for help. She does not resist deportation, but she simply asks him to take care of her son, who has nobody else to look after him in America. Ford refuses, but is tormented with guilt and can't get the boy out of his head ...

Meanwhile, Ford's partner is a Persian ethnic whose family is embarrassed by his younger sister, a typical American girl who shows some cleavage, chews gum, and has a Latino boyfriend. She and the boyfriend are killed. The brother is devastated. Harrison Ford demonstrates compassion, but gradually begins to suspect that his partner is hiding some secrets about his sister's death ...

Right there are the components for a good movie. Harrison Ford's storyline tugs on the emotional heart strings, both storylines allow the writers to examine the immigrant experience in America from many different angles, and Harrison's partner is an extremely complex man who displays both strength and weakness of character, a good man torn by conflicting loyalties. The stories involving Harrison and his partner stayed in the realm of plausibility, presented both sides of the picture, and dealt with situations we can all relate to.

Unfortunately, those storylines only took up about half of the running time, and the other stories involved one-dimensional portrayals of contrived situations. Ray Liotta plays an immigration officer who offers a green card to a beautiful Aussie actress in return for hot sex.  Yeah, there's something we can all relate to. I can't tell you how many gorgeous Aussie actresses I have seduced by pretending to be able to influence their immigration status. Meanwhile, the actress's boyfriend, who is an Aussie atheist from a secular Jewish family, plays the "Jewish card" in an attempt to get his own green card. Elsewhere, in another movie, Liotta's wife is an immigration lawyer who wants to adopt an orphaned African girl in order to save her from being deported to some god-awful hell-hole where nobody actually wants her. In the worst story of all, a Palestinian girl writes a school essay which is somewhat sympathetic to the 9-11 hijackers, causing her school to alert Homeland Security.

I'll give an example of why that last story line was so weak, besides the simple fact that it has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. The script leads us to believe that she and her family were dealt with too harshly by the authorities. Now if she had been punished for writing an essay, that might have been a valid argument, but in that case she would have had a dozen ACLU lawyers swarming around her. It would be hard to pick a more misguided reason to present America negatively than to criticize the way we deal with free speech. America has its weaknesses, but it is the only major country in the world where a person cannot commit a crime by expressing a political opinion!

But what happened in her story was not really about that. When she came to the attention of Homeland Security, they discovered that she and both of her parents were illegal aliens. Now what exactly were the federal authorities supposed to do? At that point her essay was totally irrelevant. The authorities had to figure out how to deal with a situation they could not sweep under a rug. Now here's the problem with the script: although the audience is emotionally manipulated into thinking that the family is getting screwed somehow, the authorities were actually being exceptionally lenient. The essay writer had two younger siblings who were born in America, and the feds allowed the illegal alien father to stay in our country with those two kids while the mother and the essayist were deported. Damn! I hope I get to cut a deal like that if I ever get in trouble for something I really did do. In essence, the father - a criminal, mind you - got a free pass into America (and presumably, the right to work here so that he could support the two minor children)!

So here is the lesson we learned from this particular story line: if you and your parents are all in the country illegally, you might want to tread very lightly on the pro-Jihadist path. Maybe you might consider acting as American as possible and fitting in with your peers, but whatever you do, do NOT draw attention to yourself, whether that attention is good or bad.

I'm pretty sure most of us already know that.

It's a shame that the screenwriters felt compelled to use the "Crash and Babel" technique, because it would have been simple to make this a good movie: eliminate the Liotta, Judd, and essayist storylines and beef up the others. The role of the woman who pleaded with Harrison Ford to take care of her son is one which could have been, and needed to be, expanded. There was also an undeveloped story about an Asian kid which needed to be filled out. That story could not have been cut because it was integral to the story line involving Harrison Ford's partner, but it would need beefing up if it were to stay and contribute to the film.

I'm pretty sure that all of that could have been done in the editing room from the existing footage. The first indication: it was obvious that the role of the mendicant mother must have been much bigger at one point, since she has almost no lines and the actress was Alice Braga, who is too big a star for what ended up being a cameo. The second indication: the director's cut was 140 minutes long, and the existing cut is 113 minutes. The director agreed to waive his right to final cut when the Weinsteins told him that the 140-minute version was straight-to-DVD material. I'm assuming he could have taken those 140 minutes and made a good 90-minute movie instead of a weak 113-minute one if he had been willing to lose some of his precious story lines and follow the guidelines stated above.

Bingo. Following those guidelines would have created a solid, multi-dimensional, 90-minute drama headlined by a major star delivering a competent performance. It would have had some action, and a nifty little mystery overlay involving the death of the partner's sister. As it stands, it's a weak, overlong, and often irritating film with too many characters. Although it still has some good elements, because the core of a good film is within it, one of its story lines is misguided (the 9-11 essayist), another is boring (the fake rabbinical student), others are undeveloped (presumably because of footage lost with the missing 27 minutes), and there's too much obvious sermonizing.


* widescreen anamorphic








2.5 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)
11 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
38 (of 100)









6.7 IMDB summary (of 10)









No theatrical release.








  • There's one thing in this movie that can leave no room for complaints. The nudity is excellent. Well, maybe Ray Liotta could have kept his clothes on, but the rest was excellent.

    As the exploited Aussie actress, Alice Eve showed T and/or A in three different scenes, and she may be an annual top ten contender when the year is over. She's gorgeous. Here's the formula: Take Reese Witherspoon. Get rid of the weird jaw. Give her some large, natural boobs. Make her a bit taller and 5-6 years younger. There's Alice Eve.


  • Melody Khazae, playing the murdered sister, showed absolutely everything.  







Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It's a shame that this film is so weak, because it seems to have a good film hiding within it.

The objective numbers are unreliable in this case. It is nowhere near as good as indicated by the 6.6 at IMDb, but much better than indicated by the 11% at Rotten Tomatoes.