I don't know about you, but I've had up to here with message movies which
create a rich and hokey tapestry of multi-ethnic life in L.A. by interweaving
several stories which all take place during a short time period. If President
Obama were to declare a moratorium on those, I would be his supporter for
life. Well, maybe not for life. To get that degree of commitment, he would
also have to deport Martin Short and David Schwimmer. Yes, I know that
Schwimmer is an American, but there must be some place where we can send him.
How about Antarctica? Aren't parts of that technically claimed by America? How
It's bad enough that the format itself is exhausted and
hackneyed, but it's tragic that the format kept this film from being a pretty
damned good one, which it might have been if the scriptwriter had decided to
go with a more traditional structure, concentrating on the
main storylines. By adding a load of weak and unrelated stories, the script manages to
dilute its strengths, while dragging the running time out beyond the length
could be reasonably sustained by the content.
The central story involves Harrison Ford as a federal immigration officer,
a field agent who specializes in catching and deporting illegals. One day he
happens to bust a young woman who begs him for help. She does not resist
deportation, but she simply asks him to take care of her son, who has nobody
else to look after him in America. Ford refuses, but is tormented with guilt
and can't get the boy out of his head ...
Meanwhile, Ford's partner is a Persian ethnic whose family is embarrassed
by his younger sister, a typical American girl who shows some cleavage, chews
gum, and has a Latino boyfriend. She and the boyfriend are killed. The brother
is devastated. Harrison Ford demonstrates compassion, but gradually begins to
suspect that his partner is hiding some secrets about his sister's death ...
Right there are the components for a good movie. Harrison Ford's storyline
tugs on the emotional heart strings, both storylines allow the writers to
examine the immigrant experience in America from many different angles, and
Harrison's partner is an extremely complex man who displays both strength and
weakness of character, a good man torn by conflicting loyalties. The stories
involving Harrison and his partner stayed in the realm of plausibility,
presented both sides of the picture, and dealt with situations we can all
Unfortunately, those storylines only took up about half of the running
time, and the other stories involved one-dimensional portrayals of contrived
situations. Ray Liotta plays an immigration officer who offers a green card to
a beautiful Aussie actress in return for hot sex. Yeah, there's
something we can all relate to. I can't tell you how many gorgeous Aussie
actresses I have seduced by pretending to be able to influence their
immigration status. Meanwhile, the actress's boyfriend, who is an Aussie
atheist from a secular Jewish family, plays the "Jewish card" in an attempt to
get his own green card. Elsewhere, in another movie, Liotta's wife is an
immigration lawyer who wants to adopt an orphaned African girl in order to
save her from being deported to some god-awful hell-hole where nobody actually
wants her. In the worst story of all, a Palestinian girl writes a school essay
with is somewhat sympathetic to the 9-11 hijackers, causing her school to
alert Homeland Security.
I'll give an example of why that last story line was so weak, besides the
simple fact that it has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. The script
leads us to believe that she and her family were dealt with too harshly by the
authorities. Now if she had been punished for writing an essay, that might
have been a valid argument, but in that case she would have had a dozen ACLU
lawyers swarming around her. It would be hard to pick a more misguided reason
to present America negatively than to criticize the way we deal with free
speech. America has its weaknesses, but it is the only major country in the
world where a person cannot commit a crime by expressing a political opinion!
But what happened in her story was not really about that. When she came to
the attention of Homeland Security, they discovered that she and both of her
parents were illegal aliens. Now what exactly were the federal authorities
supposed to do? At that point her essay was totally irrelevant. The
authorities had to figure out how to deal with a situation they could not
sweep under a rug. Now here's the problem with the script: although the
audience is emotionally manipulated into thinking that the family is getting
screwed somehow, the authorities were actually being exceptionally lenient.
The essay writer had two younger siblings who were born in America, and the
feds allowed the illegal alien father to stay in our country with those two
kids while the mother and the essayist were deported. Damn! I hope I get to
cut a deal like that if I ever get in trouble for something I really did do.
In essence, the father - a criminal, mind you - got a free pass into America
(and presumably, the right to work here so that he could support the two minor
So here is the lesson we learned from this particular story line: if you
and your parents are all in the country illegally, you might want to tread
very lightly on the pro-Jihadist path. Maybe you might consider acting as
American as possible and fitting in with your peers, but whatever you do, do
NOT draw attention to yourself, whether that attention is good or bad.
I'm pretty sure most of us already know that.
It's a shame that the screenwriters felt compelled to use the "Crash and
Babel" technique, because it would have been simple to make this a good movie:
eliminate the Liotta, Judd, and essayist storylines and beef up the others.
The role of the woman who pleaded with Harrison Ford to take care of her son
is one which could have been, and needed to be, expanded. There was also an
undeveloped story about an Asian kid which needed to be filled out. That story
could not have been cut because it was integral to the story line involving
Harrison Ford's partner, but it would need beefing up if it were to stay and
contribute to the film.
I'm pretty sure that all of that could have been done in the editing room
from the existing footage. The first indication: it was obvious that the
mother's role must have been much bigger, since she has almost no lines and
the actress was Alice Braga, who is too big a star for what ended up being a
cameo. The second indication: the director's cut was 140 minutes long, and the
existing cut is 113 minutes. The director agreed to waive his right to final
cut when the Weinsteins told him that the 140-minute version was
straight-to-DVD material. I'm assuming he could have taken those 140 minutes
and made a good 90-minute movie instead of a weak 113-minute one if he had
been willing to lose some of his precious story lines and follow the
guidelines stated above.
Bingo. Following those guidelines would have created a solid,
multi-dimensional, 90-minute drama headlined by a major star delivering a
competent performance. It would have had some action, and a nifty little
mystery overlay involving the death of the partner's sister. As it stands,
it's a weak, overlong, and often irritating film with too many characters.
Although it still has some good elements, because the core of a good film is
within it, one of its story lines is misguided (the 9-11 essayist), another is
boring (the fake Jewish guy), others are undeveloped (presumably in the
missing 27 minutes), and there's too much obvious sermonizing.
Despite the presence of Harrison Ford and Ashley Judd, the film grossed
less than a half-million dollars. It never reached more than 42 theaters.
Rotten Tomatoes: 12%
There's one thing in this movie that can leave no room for complaints. The
nudity is excellent. Well, maybe Ray Liotta could have kept his clothes on,
but the rest was excellent.
As the exploited Aussie actress,
Alice Eve showed T&A in three different scenes, and may be an annual top
ten contender when the year is over. She's gorgeous. Here's the formula: Take
Reese Witherspoon. Get rid of the weird jaw. Give her some large, natural
boobs. Make her a bit taller and 5-6 years younger. There's Alice Eve. Samples
Melody Khazae, playing the murdered sister, showed absolutely everything.
My Bloody Valentine - 3D
This little horror movie pulled in a surprising $51 million dollars in
January and February of this year, headed by a 3rd place, $24m opening on a
Why? Because it had a 3D gimmick, and because - surprise of surprises -
it's actually quite entertaining.
Oh, it has the usual plot that all slasher movies have:
Umpteen years ago, some grisly murders happened in Smalltown, USA. The
murderer was thought to have died. Now, after all these years, the killings
have started again. By genre convention, the original murderer must be kept
as a red herring until the real killer is announced to be someone who was
deeply affected by the original set of slayings.
You would think that audiences would tire of that plot, but it seems that
they never do.
Anyway, there are only three or four elements that films like this need to
- 1. A reasonably interesting plot and characters with some mystery
concerning the killer's identity.
- 2. Grisly gore.
- 3. Lots of "boo" moments
- 4. Nudity.
Any film which can deliver on all four will succeed with the genre buffs on
DVD and may even cross over to theatrical success. This film fit the bill, and
also enhanced the gore and the "boos" with 3D effects. It must have been
pretty cool to watch in 3D, because I sort of enjoyed watching it in 2D, and
I'm not a genre buff.
If you like this stuff, check it out ...
Great nudity in this film as well. I don't really know who
Betsy Rue is, but she was
stark naked for more than five minutes straight! (Sample below)