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Crossing Over Review

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Various interwoven stories make up this Crash-style drama, involving those policing the borders of America and those attempting to break through. Characters include jaded Immigration & Customs Enforcement agent Max Brogan (Ford) and slimy illegal-exploiter Cole Frankel (Liotta).

★★★★★

There are few people, beyond his most myopic and partisan fans, who will not rejoice in the news that Harrison Ford has finally seen sense and opted for a role in a serious-minded ensemble drama that does not require him to make love to women or beat up badguys half his age. No-one could blame him for having one last crack at the good Dr. Jones, but it’s encouraging to see him take a crack at another kind of indie entirely.

Well, it would be if Crossing Over, writer-director-producer Wayne Kramer’s meretricious cruise through the corruption and heartache of the US immigration system, were worth a damn. It isn’t, and the fact Ford’s performance as world-weary Los Angeles ICE agent Max Brogan is his best in years only adds to the disappointment.

Like Crash and Babel before it, Crossing Over employs a multi-strand narrative. Unfortunately, it also employs crude racial stereotypes, overwrought dialogue and a kitchen-sink MO that throws in as many ethnicities, races and religions as possible.

A quick run-down of the major story threads gives some idea of the mess this creates. In the film’s most effective sequence, Brogan places a Mexican woman (Alice Braga) in custody, then dedicates himself to returning her son to his grandparents across the border. Meanwhile, Ashley Judd plays a smug immigration lawyer married to Ray Liotta, who promises an Australian actress (Alice Eve) a green card if she’ll become his sex-slave. There’s also an Iranian family with a wayward daughter tempted by Western decadence, with all the clichés that entails; a clan of industrious Koreans on the brink of naturalisation; and a family of Bangladeshis with their own problem child — a daughter with Al-Qaeda sympathies.

And being over-stuffed and heavy-handed are not even Crossing Over’s biggest problems. That dubious honour goes to an absolute failure to address its nominal subject-matter in any meaningful way. Worse, that failure seems to be entirely wilful, since Kramer quickly abandons whatever confused moral message he started out with in favour of a crass, highly exploitational murder-mystery occasioned by — who’d have guessed it? — an honour killing.