Crossing Over (2009)
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And it's quite ambitious for Kramer to try and pull off no less than seven parallel threads in the film, which to a certain extent I felt was largely successful, despite some being almost peripheral if not for the presence of a recognized star. Anchored by Harrison Ford as Max Brogan, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, the film weaves in and out of the different threads without feeling too forced, or the need for some compulsory and carefully designed moments to link the stories up intricately. Sometimes like the six degrees of separation, the film captures the fact that we don't have full details of that web of links, and it will feel very artificial if everyone knew everyone else, or if one event would impact severely on another.
In any case, each of the story lines were engaging enough, some employing deep emotions to argue their case, while others even had to build to a crescendo of all out action, such as a supermarket shootout (one of the nicely executed ones I've seen). There's an illegal Mexican woman (a very short role by Alice Braga) who begs Ford's Max to look after her young son in the care of unfriendly relatives, a Jewish musician (Jim Sturgess) who's waiting to qualify for residency and willing to do just anything to get there, his Australian girlfriend (Alice Eve) and Hollywood actress wannabe who had granted 2 months worth of on-demand sexual favours to an Immigration official (Ray Liotta) in exchange for a green card, whose wife (Ashley Judd) wants to adopt a child placed in a detention centre, who meets an Iranian girl (Summer Bishil whose essay failed to condemn the terrorists of 9/11 and gotten her and her family into hot soup. Then there's a Korean family who is waiting to be naturalized whose eldest son got involved with thugs (ala Gran Torino rites of passage style), and another ICE agent (Cliff Curtis) whose family cannot stand their estranged sister whom they feel is a disgrace of their values, tradition and custom by adopting the lifestyle of Americans, yet strangely ironic as they too pursue to be American citizens.
Phew, and all this with a little murder mystery thrown into the mix as well. It's about how one aspires to live in a country, yet uncompromising in one's position to adopt and adapt to the new environment. Which brings about some xenophobia, especially if one's too different from the rest, and things are made worst with the citizens unwilling to understand and lend assistance in assimilation to a new country and its idiosyncrasies.
But what seemed to be a common theme here, is how power can be either used to do what's probably morally right, versus abusing it for personal gain. Given three of the lead characters here are law enforcement or in responsible positions in government agencies, it's easy to abuse privilege, and it's nothing new too, even in local context, where sexual favours get traded for leniency or the closing of an eye pertaining to illegal workers, or those here without the proper papers. And since the law is fixed (and sometimes perverse by those who interpret it), and justice blind, I suppose there are times we may be compelled to lend a hand to a stranger out of nothing but on humanitarian grounds, in doing what's right and decent for a fellow human being.
Crossing Over presents many of such situations and while it may be a mixed bag in its narrative, it certainly pushes the right buttons with its star-studded ensemble cast in making the audience think about, empathize with, and examine if the issues presented could have existed in the local context, with similar challenges in the treatment of those who are illegal immigrants.
Ford plays Max Brogan, an INS agent stationed in Los Angeles, who decides to help an illegal textile worker (Alice Braga) by making sure that the woman's son is taken to his grandmother (the woman's mother) in Mexico when the woman is detained. Meanwhile, Max's partner Hamid Baraheri (Cliff Curtis), struggles to reconcile his job with the culture of his family (Iranian) and the reckless behavior of his younger sister. Ray Liotta plays Cole Frankel, an adjudicator who determines the status of immigrants and their green cards; Alice Eve is an aspiring Australian actress who has to degrade herself to lengthen her stay in the country; Ashley Judd plays Liotta's wife, who defends immigrants in status cases. In a parallel storyline, a young Korean youth, days before his family's naturalization ceremony, makes a decision that could have terrible consequences.
All of these story lines are intricately intertwined, but here's where the movie differs from Crash: the interactions of the various characters never feel forced or insincere, and the characters themselves are not simple good people doing bad things or bad people doing good things.
The acting is uniformly grand. Ford, who rarely plays nonhero roles let alone supporting roles, is excellent as the crusty, world-weary agent, trying desperately to solve a serious crime that may hit close to home while also doing the right thing by the young textile-worker mother. Also shining is Judd (and, to a lesser extent, Liotta, although he plays the same character in many of his movies now - a slimeball), but really sealing the deal is Curtis (10,000 BC, Sunshine) as the conflicted agent of Iranian descent.
Like the issue of immigration itself, the movie is complicated, almost detrimentally so, but the conflict should certainly resonate with its audience, even if one is not an immigrant or part of a family that has recently immigrated. Certain scenes are almost deadly with their pathos, figuratively rending your heart as they play out. Emotionally gripping scenes such as these (particularly near the end of the film) exemplify precisely the kind of psychological gymnastics that a director must undertake for a film like this to have any sort of positive effect on its audience. That is, the entire issue of immigration is fraught with anger, deceit, terror, and sadness, and it can be tricky to walk the line between one feeling or another, lest one be accused of bias.
Crossing Over falls into none of the traps that Crash fell into. Its character-driven storyline is brimming with plausible conflict that eclipses the usual cops-and-illegals pastiche, choosing instead to deal with problems on a more individual level. The result is an honest, illuminating look at a sometimes-vexing subject, although it is clearly not for all tastes.
I have to say that this movie explores the issues surrounding immigration extremely well. Forced removal, failed attempts to cheat the system, the motivations for naturalisation (which, as the movie suggests, are not always for the joy of becoming a new citizen) and the general drive of some people to find a better life for their family. I also used to be engaged to an Iranian so I was quite impressed with the portrayal of the Iranian family. I do not mean honour killings, that is not a common thing in wealthy Iranian families, but what often can be is the concept of how one appears to others in the culture and the effect of negative gossip on the reputation of the senior members of the family.
Also, a lot has been made about the 9/11 "sympathiser" storyline. Indeed, there is one reviewer on here who refers to it as disgusting. How laughable. It is perhaps a shame that audiences, particularly American ones it seems, do not actually listening to the dialog. What the character of Taslima says is that she does not agree what they did but she understood the motivation. The movie then cleverly goes on to show the conclusion jumping nature of some Americans, in this instance the immigration official. At the end of the day Taslima's possible terrorist sympathies are left ambiguous, neither confirmed or disproved, and that is why I think a lot of less intelligent viewers jump to the same conclusion that the fictional official does by filling in the blanks that they desire to see because they do not wish to have a dialog about a difficult subject.
The only disappointing part of the movie for me was the Harrison Ford storyline. I didn't feel that any part of it explored any particular immigration related issue until the penultimate scene and I couldn't understand the motivation behind Ford's character. However, that aside I couldn't fault this picture, either in it's script, it's acting or it's direction.
Even if you don't feel it lives up to those two (which I feel too), it's still a pretty good movie. You have great actors and there is no holding back any punches. At times it gets really political (and how couldn't it go that way), although sometimes you'd wish even more involvement or that he would shed more light into some segments ... but then again, the movie might have felt too long if he did.
As it is, this is a rock solid drama, about migration (immigration) and many other things in the US.
A lot of people have trouble with portrayals of perspectives which challenge the psychological defense mechanisms we put in place to allow us to filter reality into something easier for us to live with. If we really look at things for what they are, the world is a very scary place. This is why you will notice that people get disproportionately agitated when you challenge these mental constructs, leading to loud and/or ignorant opinions. <--also well portrayed at times in the film.
I thought about using smaller words for those weak minded loud mouths, but they probably didn't read this far and I've learned, to my dismay, that all I can do is dismiss their stupidity/cowardice anyways.
If you can see past what mass media shoves down your throat, you will thoroughly appreciate this movie, I guarantee it :)
The movie depends on its all stellar cast led by Harrison Ford in his most unusual role ever, none of his typical saving-his-family from terrorists, in fact, his character in CROSSING OVER is a loner who wonders whether his job as ICE agent is the right thing to do, he's haunted by the implications and the impact of what he does for a living on those who just want to come here for a better life and angered by those who take advantage of the freedom bestowed upon them. After 9/11 happened, the rules of the game have changed and Ford, in a way, is like that aching voice bugging us to rethink whether enforcing homeland security at the expense of a few good immigrants can be justified.
All the rest of the supporting actors are outstanding in their performances, Jim Sturgess plays a guy who sticks to his principles to get a green card while his girlfriend is willing to sell her body for it. Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd play a married couple and yet they're on two different teams, one takes advantage of the newcomers while the other tries to save them. But the most controversial is probably the issue of freedom of speech presented by writer/director Wayne Kramer in this movie. Once again, it's the question of homeland security at the expense of freedom can be justified or not, it's a bit of a criticism against Patriot Act. But isn't freedom of speech comes with limits? Because if it's without boundaries, then anarchy and division are what would happen.
Wayne Kramer does a good job in making sure not only each plot would flow well with each other as they overlap within a decent running time but he also tackles only the most imperative complexities without wasting time in taking unnecessary shots or moments. I love the story because it punishes those who take freedom for granted and rewards those who cherish it. In the case of that schoolgirl, played by Summer Bishil, it's still arguable.. is she an example of someone who abuses freedom of speech or is she a victim of persecution?
I wasn't a big fan of Wayne Kramer's previous works which include Running Scared and Mindhunters, but CROSSING OVER is a whole nother result, he finally understands what he needs to do to come up with a good story, not simply trying to confuse or depress you. One last note, actor Cliff Curtis gives an Oscar worthy performance as Harrison Ford's partner in this movie, too bad Curtis will be overlooked and this movie will remain as one of this year's under-appreciated. Has America forgotten that it was once a land of immigrants?
"Crossing Over" is more than I expected. It tells so many forgotten stories that are worthy of mention, because of their desire to strive for a better life. This type of film is always in danger of stereotyping or misrepresenting minority groups in a negative way, but in "Crossing Over" there is no such problems as the characters are skilfully presented. I particularly like the imagery of motorway junctions shown several times in this film. It parallels the characters in the film, making decisions to turn one way or another, and the amount of traffic that passes through borders.
It also brings out many points for discussion. What would you sacrifice to become an American citizen? What choices would you make, no matter how hard and painful they are, to make a dream come true?
Anyways, I popped the DVD in. Harrison Ford playing his usual role, a law enforcement/cop/detective actually gave a good performance. I am a big fan of the character of Amid in this film. His emotions were real and his performance during the hold-up scene in the Korean Convenience store was suspenseful and emotional.
I felt some connections to Crash; with all the interconnectedness between the characters. Despite the cool and intriguing effect of the relationships between the characters, it still wasn't amazing as Crash's.
If I had to pick a scene, no doubt would I choose the Koreantown convenient store scene. One of the best I have seen.
I am shocked that this movie was on limited release. If you want to explore a new topic in illegal immigration, with good performances and recognizable actors then this movie is definitely worth the rent. The overall message of this movie is pro-immigration, but it is an interesting and emotional ride to catch a glimpse of the hard and sacrificial life of an immigrant.
on the surface the feature has some good performances(the boring professional sort if you ask me) and 1 good scene( Cliff Curtis -the supermarket) but everything else is a cliché, and of the worst kind; trying hard to please the American viewer as in how he would LIKE to FEEL(in general) but not how the reality IS; this aspect would be OK but as part in the "fiction" category, and not as advertised - "realistic" drama"...
the dialogs come out straight from the government public relations department. the subliminal patriotic message is promoted in almost EVERY scene in a direct or indirect manner. some tear-jerking scenes for effect and "compassion" but which in a very offensive manner promote exactly the OPPOSITE in how the viewer should asses the reality...
also what really upsets me is how LITTLE the screenwriters actually do NOT know about immigrants.for starters there is an ABSURD out-of-date interpretations as in why people come to America this days. the immigrants are seen as "sheeps" and the "true" Americans as very sensible people even when in the wrong.
in a sentence - this plot attempts to influence the American public that they have it much much better then the rest of the world and keep them content.
to be frank, i would have preferred to watch "crash" all over again instead of this. at least that director has lived WITH immigrants for so long and he did have some things to point out unlike this brainwashing parody of a "drama".
When the Australian girl was giving the desk clerk a hard time even though the girl didn't have any receipts, I thought, "Just deport her now!" Life is all about choices, and if you make bad choices, don't expect sympathy! It's too bad when kids are caught up in their parents' bad choices but that's the parents' fault, not the fault of the U.S. The Moslem parents should have thought ahead of time about the potential effects their illegal actions could have on their kids. And how idiotic does a person have to be to make a speech in support of the 9/11 hijackers?!
Whether a person comes to this country to be a model, to work in a factory, or to teach in a Jewish school, that person has the responsibility to think first about the laws of the country he or she is going to and what steps must be taken to proceed in accordance with those laws. This movie tries to make all the illegals seem like poor, downtrodden or disadvantaged foreigners who "just want a better life." Where's the part about taking responsibility for one's actions?
And the whole bleeding-heart subplot about an attorney wanting to adopt a child that her spouse has never met and has no interest in is absurd. Who would do that?
I agree with those who have said that it's another liberal Hollywood social-engineering "feel good" film...the kind that makes the rest of us feel even more disgusted with illegals than we already do.
An Australian woman who becomes a prostitute in order to get her visa?
A Muslim girl who is trying to understand the terrorist point of view? It is like someone telling you that Hitler had his reasons too.
An Asian guy who doesn't like America at all and help a bunch of crazy people robbing a store killing everyone like Terminator.
The Arabian family that kill one of their own because they feel shame of their own relative.
This is crazy, if this represent immigrants like me, then I would prefer no representation at all because these characters seem to have been out from a horror house.
I didn't like the film and I really believe that instead of help immigrants, it will cause more problems to immigrants.
The only real immigrant character I felt empathy was the Mexican woman, she was the only one who really represents immigrants in this country.
If people have a problem with immigration law as it is, then work on changing the laws, not on breaking them. We make the laws. We can change the laws by voting for politicians who can make a difference.
I just think this sappy movie turns a blind eye on the consequences for allowing illegal immigrants to live and work here, and focuses entirely on the consequences for them getting caught by the authorities. Didn't work for me.
Max Brogan (Harrison Ford) is an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent (ICE) with a dangerous flaw - he has a heart and sympathy for the very people he must track down and deport. His partner, Iranian-American Hamid (Cliff Curtis) awaits his father's naturalization ceremony and appears dedicated to his job only to prove to his family how important it is to be American. As the duo runs routine busts on illegal immigrants, several other stories are revealed - a defense lawyer (Ashley Judd) negotiates for a new family for an orphaned child and must also orchestrate the deportation method of a family whose 15-year old daughter is accused of having ties to terrorism; a young Jewish man (Jim Sturgess) tries to use his unpracticed religion to secure a job; and Cole Frankel (Ray Liotta) uses his position as a green card approval supervisor to force a beautiful Australian model (Alice Eve) into some compromising positions.
The film begs us to be sympathetic with several groups of people, all who have broken the law. Some of the offenses are easier to understand, to rationalize, but most derive little real accord - each case is preceded and surrounded by corruption and gross misuse of power, but condoning any of the actual crimes is never fully justified. It's apparent that bad decisions and uneducated choices are the cause for most of the predicaments. If only fate had somehow intervened, perhaps that would allow for more compassion. And Frankel, who deserves the least amount of clemency, gets an odd and wholly unnecessary moment of remorse - one that does little to alter his fate.
Crossing Over is political and thought-provoking, but also muddled by the ICE lingo and green card terms and the overabundance of characters. Its failure lies in the multiple interweaving story lines that could have been reduced to one or two. Hiding behind jobs, makeup and religious ties sums up the not too complex personalities and the murder-mystery portion is evident from the start. The struggles of United States citizenship, the impossibility of equality, the undeniable corruption of those in power, and the tragedy heaped on to the point of comedy are all noble attempts at a moving premise, but an utter nosedive in the direction of entertainment. The film befittingly concludes on a note of how great America really is, while flashing back to human heads exploding under point blank gunfire.
- The Massie Twins
If you completely ignore what a dangerous piece of trash propaganda this is, it's a decent movie with some nice skin here and there and some OK acting, but it's a Trojan horse movie. Entertainment with a poison pill of deceit and distortion on a topic too serious to pretend we can be soft on any longer if we are to survive as a country.
PLOT: Harrison Ford is part of ICE (La Migra) illegal immigrant control, he is conflicted by his role when he sees the damage deportation does to illegals, while we TOTALLY ignore the damage illegals do to the country. His sadness revolves around a pretty mother of one that he has to deport who then goes missing and he feels guilty.
It was given a limited theatrical release on February 27, 2009. It ultimately grossed less than half a million dollars in North America, and just over $2.5 million internationally for a total of $3 million. The film has reportedly made another $1.7 million in US DVD sales.
I must be alone on this, but I liked the film Crash (2004) very much; I understand why its message and its characters upset to some people, but I liked the performances, the tone and the ingenious way in which co-screenwriters Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco took the structure of "intercconected stories" to bring it a fresh and dynamic twist.I mentioned all that because Crossing Over is basically Crash, but without that energy and dynamism.Its didactic intention is irritating and all the characters are a living cliché.
Maybe, Kramer should have left his movie untouchable, instead of submitting himself to the whims from a distributor.I do not know if Crossing Over would have been better with 40 additional minutes, but I consider Kramer to be a great director who made very solid work in the past and, because of that, I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
The screenplay from this film has many important fails, since there are too many trembling and instructive conversations; sudden changes of attitude; stupid reactions; too many improbable coincidences; and finally, the narrative structure is badly distributed.
Nevertheless, I cannot deny the performances from this film are very solid.Summer Bishil and Jacquline Obradors are perfect on their roles; Harrison Ford brings his best performance in many years; Ray Liotta brings good intensity to his role; and Ashley Judd is also credible.
However, Crossing Over is a boring and uninteresting movie, which I would put on the same level of a melodramatic soap-opera.Nonetheless, I keep having faith on Kramer's future projects, since his previous work warrants a second chance.