Sara Vilkomerson’s Guide To This Week’s Movies: Borderline Nuts

stringer 0 Sara Vilkomerson’s Guide To This Week’s Movies: Borderline NutsThe one word—however made up it may be—we would have to use to describe the new film Crossing Over is Crash-tastic. Much like the 2004 film we have ridiculed over and over (and over) again, Crossing Over takes place in Los Angeles and features a giant ensemble cast tenuously linked together. But this time, instead of exploring racial tensions, we’ve got immigration issues. Also like Crash, there happen to be some very good performances and affecting scenes in the mix that get overshadowed by the screaming not-so-subliminal good intentions and manipulations that unfortunately come along as well. Is subtlety dead? Apparently so!

How to break it all down? Here goes. Harrison Ford—looking great and age-appropriately silver foxy—plays Max Brogan, an immigration officer who seems to have only a cat (yay!) to care for at home and who seems completely overdoing his job rounding up illegal residents. He arrests a beautiful young Mexican woman (Alice Braga), who begs him to look after her son, setting him on a difficult path between duty and compassion. Meanwhile, Max’s partner Hamid Baraheri (Cliff Curtis) has a sister (Melody Khazae) currently being shunned by his family. She is sleeping with her boss, who is making a fake ID for a young Nicole Kidman–esque Australian actress (Alice Eve, whom we loved in Starter for 10), who is simultaneously flirting with the hot English atheist trying to pretend to have found his inner Jew (21’s Jim Sturgess) while she’s also getting blackmailed into sleeping with Ray Liotta—who has never ever been so wonderfully creepy—who is married to Ashley Judd, an immigration lawyer and … We could keep going and try to explain the links to the young Korean gang and the devout Muslim girl, but we’ve already confused ourselves, and needless to say, they are all connected. Sigh.

A couple of these story lines could have gotten dropped along the way, because we actually would have liked to have seen more of some others, particularly Mr. Ford’s; the one scene he had with Melody Khazae had as much sparkage as something out of Working Girl. We’re still not sure whether Ashley Judd was intentionally doing an Angelina Jolie impression, or whether some of the more blatant heart-tugging scenes were really necessary. Manipulations aside, this is a thorny and upsetting subject to deal with. (Here’s one question, though: Are we really supposed to believe that a blond English-speaking bombshell like Alice Eve could have just as tough a time getting a green card as a Mexican worker who sneaks over the border?) Still, writer-director Wayne Kramer (The Cooler) never gives the audience the chance to make their own conclusion, and instead hammers his point home so hard that even if you took a nap for part of the film, you’d still get it. O.K., so we cried a little bit … but that made us resent it more.

Crossing Over opens Friday at Regal E-Walk 42nd Street, Union Square and Lincoln Square Cinemas.

svilkomerson@observer.com