It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
We spend a lot of time talking about the American Dream and have too much suspicion about those who want to live it. Feelings against immigrants are so freely expressed even in polite society that you'd think they all came here for the free lunch. "Crossing Over" creates a mosaic, too simplistic to be sure, of recent arrivals who came here for admirable reasons and will be valuable citizens if they get the chance. Most of them will anyway. Some were damaged goods at home and have not traveled well.
It is hard to immigrate to this country legally and potentially fatal to do it illegally. That's why I speculate we get some of the best and the brightest; it takes determination, ambition and skill to get into the United States either way. Many of those who arrive want to improve themselves, and in the process, they will improve us. I've been taking a lot of cabs the last couple of years, and I've noticed most of the drivers are obviously immigrants, from India, Pakistan, Africa, the Philippines, the Middle East and the Americas. Without a single exception, they all have their car radios tuned to the same station, the best station we have, National Public Radio. It tells you something.
"Crossing Over" borrows the structure of "Crash" to tell interlocking stories about several immigrants, their problems and their families. All of their lives connect in some way, if only through U.S. immigration officials. "Crash" wove its pattern fairly naturally. "Crossing Over" seems to strain, with too many characters, too many story strands and too much of an effort to cover the bases. We meet immigrants new and established, legal and illegal, from Mexico, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Iran, England, Korea and Australia. It feels like a list.
The connecting links are two immigration officers, played by Harrison Ford and Cliff Curtis; an adjudicator (Ray Liotta), and an immigration defense attorney (Ashley Judd). The stories involve a Mexican woman separated from her child in a raid; an Iranian family, well established, which is about to be naturalized; a Muslim teenager who attracts an FBI investigation by reading an outspoken (but legitimate) paper about 9/11 in class; a Korean teenager (Justin Chon) who is being pressured to join a Korean gang; an Australian would-be actress; an atheist Jew from Great Britain who poses as a teacher whose presence is needed in a Hebrew school, and a little Nigerian orphan who has been stranded in a holding center and will be sent back to Africa and danger.