Review: Crossing Over
Plot: A drama examining the issue of immigration, and the way it affects several people, including a burnt-out Immigration & Customs Enforcement agent (Harrison Ford), his Iranian-American partner (Cliff Curtis), an immigration lawyer (Ashley Judd), her adjudicator husband (Ray Liotta)- whos forcing an Australian actress (Alice Eve) to be his sex slave in order to get a green card, and her on-again, off-again boyfriend- an Irish musician (Jim Sturgess) exploiting his Jewish heritage in order to get citizenship.
Review: Obviously, the folks behind CROSSING OVER were hoping to make the next CRASH, as all of the ingredients are there, including a provocative, timely subject at the heart of the film, and a star-studded cast. Heck- like CRASH, its even set in L.A, and has a musical score by Mark Isham. However, while on the surface it may resemble CRASH, its nowhere near as good as that (admittedly overrated) film.
Its hard to know who to blame for CROSSING OVERs failure. Does the blame lie with producer Harvey Weinstein, who supposedly cut and recut the film to ribbons? Is actor Sean Penn, who at the eleventh hour supposedly had his entire role removed from the film due to concerns regarding a controversial honor killing sub-plot, the culprit, or does the blame lie with writer-director Wayne Kramer?
I think all three parties have to share the blame on this one. In its current incarnation, CROSSING OVER does feel incredibly truncated. If the Penn story is true, he either didnt read the script beforehand, or the film was radically re-written after he signed on, as the film would probably run about forty minutes minor the pivotal honor killing subplot. If the film was indeed re-edited to remove Penn from the film, that may explain why it feels so choppy, but supposedly, Penns role was nothing more than a glorified cameo, so obviously more was hacked out of the film besides his role.
Still, after watching the 112 remaining minutes of CROSSING OVER, I have a hard time imagining any amount of restored footage could significantly improve the film. Besides the choppy pace, there are a lot of other things wrong with the film. Despite the strong cast, the acting from all involved is nothing to write home about- although the roles are all incredibly two dimensional. Harrison Ford plays the same glowering, constantly outraged moralist role hes been playing for years. Ray Liotta, as always, plays a complete scumbag, while Ashley Judd plays his saintly wife. Alice Eve, as Liottas sex slave, is certainly stunning, but her character is so shallow and vain, that I had a hard time feeling for her predicament. Jim Sturgess doesnt fare much better, although one gets the feeling that a lot of his role is lying on the cutting room floor.
The only one who really makes an impression is Cliff Curtis, but his whole subplot is cleared up a little too neatly in the unintentionally hilarious climax- where everything comes to a head at a citizenship ceremony with the national anthem blaring in the background.
Of the cast, the person I had the biggest problem with was Summer Bishil, who plays a devout Muslim teenager/ Illegal immigrant, who gets into hot water with the FBI, after she gives a speech at her high school that sympathizes with the 9/11 hijackers, and is caught surfing jihadist websites. Obviously, were supposed to sympathize with her- but personally, I found her arrogant little brat. Im all for free speech, but I really hate it when people express nothing but contempt for their adopted country, but then attempt to hide behind its laws. Also- considering that shes an illegal, youd think shed be smart enough to keep a low profile, While I definitely felt bad for her family, which is forced to pay a hefty price for her stupidity, I thoroughly loathed her character- which I imagine is exactly the way the filmmakers DID NOT want me to feel.
CROSSING OVER really is a disaster for all involved, and that Im sure all involved would like to forget about- which is a shame, as it had a lot of potential. Hopefully, director Wayne Kramer will bounce back from this one, as I still think hes a very talented director (I even like RUNNING SCARED- although methinks Im in the minority on this one). Considering the high profile cast, it certainly looks as though The Weinstein Co., is burying the film, which probably isnt a bad thing.
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