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.