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 naturalisation 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.
Writer-director Wayne Kramer’s Crossing Over tries desperately hard to mine the territory of inter-locking stories with multicultural themes typified by Babel and Crash, and fails miserably.
The biggest mystery is how Kramer persuaded Harrison Ford, Ashley Judd and Ray Liotta to lend their talents to this lurid, pretentious and manipulative mishmash. The characters are poorly sketched, an extended sequence involving an armed robbery is both wildly implausible and excessively violent, and the nudity is gratuitous.
Over-heated melodrama follows seven or eight criss-crossing stories, all dealing with immigration in the US post-9/11. Ford plays Max Brogan, a grizzled officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who kindly takes a detained woman’s son back to his grandparents in Mexico.
Cliff Curtis is his Iranian-born partner, Hamid, who frets over his sister’s affair with a married man; her subsequent murder generates little tension. Liotta is Cole, a sleazy immigration bureaucrat who’s married to saintly immigration lawyer Denise (Judd).
Cole blackmails an Aussie actress (Alice Eve, embarrassingly bad) into sleeping with him in exchange for a green card. Denise is hired by a family threatened with deportation after their Muslim daughter gives a mildly inflammatory speech at school about the 9/11 bombers and the rights of the Palestinians and Iraqis; concurrently Denise urges her husband to agree to them adopting an African girl held in juvenile detention.
Among the other characters are a Korean teenager who gets mixed up in the robbery right before he’s about to be naturalized, and an English muso (Jim Sturgess) who sets out to convince immigration authorities he’s a devout Jew so he can secure a green card.
These various strands come together eventually, relying upon an unlikely series of co-incidences, but it’s rarely dramatically interesting or engaging. Kramer showed commendable self-discipline and lucid story-telling ability with his debut feature, the 2003 William H. Macy/Alec Baldwin starrer The Cooler. Pity none of that is on display here.