The Films of Wayne Kramer
Crossing Over (March 23/09)
While it's certainly not difficult to see why most reviewers have drawn parallels between Crash and Crossing Over, writer/director Wayne Kramer generally does a superb job of using a topical subject matter as a means of telling a multi-layered and multi-character story - with the heavy-handed preachiness that virtually defined Paul Haggis' Oscar-winning effort thankfully kept to a bare minimum. The movie - which follows several figures as they confront a myriad of immigration-related issues - boasts an opening hour that's ultimately not quite as enthralling as one might've hoped, admittedly, and it's impossible to deny that the viewer is initially forced to view the proceedings with casual indifference. The uniformly impressive performances and surprising twists within the narrative ensure that Crossing Over does remain entertaining even through its less-than-engaging portions, with the movie's transformation into an almost relentlessly engrossing piece of work triggered by a mesmerizing sequence in which Cliff Curtis' Hamid Baraheri drunkenly stumbles into a convenience-store robbery. It's an electrifying interlude that effectively leads into a third act that brilliantly ties up the various plot threads, and there's little doubt that the unexpected emotional impact of the film's climactic stretch proves instrumental in Crossing Over's inevitable success.