Harrison Ford, Alice Braga, Crossing Over

Dale Robinette/TWC 2007

Review in a Hurry: This oppressively earnest piece of Oscar bait—with Harrison Ford as an immigration officer conveniently at the center of every ethnic drama in L.A.—was rightfully left to thrash around on the hook.

The Bigger Picture: Writer-director Wayne Kramer struggles to depict all sides of the immigration issue in this sprawling Los Angeles-based melodrama. The topic is fraught with ethical dilemmas—the tension between opportunity and resources, assimilation, cultural clashes...oh, I could go on! But Kramer avoids zeroing in on any single controversy and opts for the scattershot approach.

Crossing Over zips among every ethnic group with a representation in the U.N. You got the Persians, the Japanese, the Mexicans, the Arabs, the Bangladeshis—hell, even the Aussies make an appearance. Having this multiculti kaleidoscope of traumas is a sympathetic idea, but the reliance on laughably two-dimensional characters makes the execution embarrassing.

Now, all these different ethnic clans tangentially intersect with Max Brogen (Ford), a Scotch-swilling grizzled immigration officer with a frosty demeanor but a warm spot for migrant women. Max and his partner—a well-to-do Americanized Iranian immigrant—hunt and help (in their own questionable ways) different characters desperate to stay in the U.S.

Their tribulations crisscross with those of a dedicated immigration lawyer (Ashley Judd) and a brutish naturalization bureaucrat (Ray Liotta). And true to the current trend (Traffic, Crash, Babel) all these disparate stories merge together in a final scene! What a refreshing dynamic!

Ford's wooden style feels disengaged, while the ensemble cast of unknowns go at their parts with high-decibel veracity. The fresh-faced supporting players do a fair amount of scenery chewing, but they give the film an authentic and poignant tone. It's a shame their efforts will be eclipsed by this ham-handed fiasco.

The 180—a Second Opinion: Crossing Over follows in the same tradition of Crash and Traffic, and though it's a fatally flawed movie, it has more heart and complexity than those other Important Films.

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