Crossing Over is Crash by any other name, only with immigration as its driving theme.
From the LA setting to an ethnic kaleidoscope of characters – good (Harrison Ford, Ashley Judd), bad (can’t say without giving too much away) and venal (Ray Liotta) – it’s full-on soapbox moviemaking, with writer/director Wayne Kramer attempting to paint a human face on America’s confused and confusing post-9/11 immigration policies.
So, Ford is a scowling, weary illegal-alien buster attempting to reunite a boy with the mother (Alice Braga) he chucked back to Mexico. Ashley Judd is a heart-of-gold lawyer taking on hopeless cases.
Jim Sturgess is a Brit musician trying to play “the Jew card” to grease his way up the Green Card pole. Alice Eve is an Aussie actress trying to do the same, only on her back with Ray Liotta’s sleazy adjudicator. Etc, etc…
The stitching for this overly simplistic tapestry is frayed from the outset, packed with eye-rolling coincidence, iffy character development and connective revelations that lack the buzz of Paul Haggis’ meatier Oscar-winner.
Ironically, Kramer’s strongest strand is one that might raise some hackles: a Muslim schoolgirl who defends the 9/11 hijackers in front of baying classmates and ends up facing deportation for being a security risk. But the Korean lad who gets sucked into a gang more ludicrous than Gran Torino’s and the Iranian family shamed by their feisty, cleavage-exposing daughter make for insubstantial sub-stories.
It all leads to a murder ‘mystery’ that adds nothing to the melting pot bar a bizarre confession intercut with ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’.
Kramer, who made the very cool The Cooler, overheats here: manipulative, tear-streaked close-ups, sanctimonious dialogue, maudlin acoustic guitars… This exploration of American citizenship gets your gut churning – but like you’ve just endured a dodgy kebab, not a harrowing emotional journey.
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Hampered by wayward direction and a skin-deep script, this won’t be following Crash to the Academy podium. If you loved Haggis’ Oscar victor, you might squeeze an iota of enlightenment out of Kramer’s copycat melodrama. If not, don’t bother crossing its borders.