In a barren market, a film like Cross is poisoned water to viewers thirsting for comic-influenced action, but in one as saturated as the current movie landscape, I can't think of a single reason anyone would bother with it. Throw a rock and you'll hit a better superhero movie -- one with a bigger budget, one with better performances, one with smarter writing...one with anything worth mentioning in the place that Cross has none. It's a movie I couldn't even make it halfway through before giving up...but, since we're here, let's document what's already gone wrong before I had to switch it off.
The brainchild of co-writer/producer/casting director/actor Patrick Durham, Cross displays an infinite willingness to bend over backwards trying to name, explain, and connect every character that appears on screen with cheap-looking floating text captions. On one hand, this is a remarkably lazy way to set characters up -- they might as well wear signs around their necks -- and yet, almost impressively, it does no good whatsoever. Since none of these characters exhibit a shred of personality, and many barely have the slightest relevance to a given scene or the overall story, the information vanishes as quickly as it appears. Hell, signs might be better: at least the viewer would get a chance to memorize them.
The incomprehensible plot that remains is pretty straightforward: Cross (Brian Austin Green) is a hero with a family cross that gives him special powers, Erlik (Michael Clarke Duncan) is a criminal overlord looking to kill Cross and take over the city, and he's hired an immortal badass named Gunnar (Vinnie Jones) to help him do so. The magic of Durham's screenplay is that it manages to avoid giving any of these characters non-reflexive motivation. Cross uses his special powers because...he has them. He fights Erlik because Erlik is the bad guy. Erlik fights back because Cross is fighting him, and so on. These things happen because if they do not, there is no movie, and there must be a movie, because Durham has written one.
As one of the movie's three casting directors, Durham can be blamed for the casting of Brian Austin Green. Green is probably most famous at this point for being Megan Fox's husband, and I see why they'd make a good couple: Green matches Fox's dead-eyed soullessness beat-for-beat. In one extensive sequence, Cross helps a woman (Susie Abromeit) in a bar fight off some leery drunkards, and she ends up at his place, her interest piqued by his noble attitude. Never in my entire movie-watching life have I seen an actor with less perceptible interest in a gorgeous woman sitting in his lap than Green exhibits on his stony, emotionless face during this sequence. In fact, he almost seems annoyed by the whole situation, as if it's a chore to be bedded by charming, attractive people without having to work at it.
As the film progresses, more interesting quirks pop up on Durham's end: his unconscious sexism (in one amazing bit, Lori Heuring is walking down a hallway with a gun drawn, and one of her fellow soldiers pops through a doorway to ask if she's all right. In the moment she has her head turned, a thug appears and aims to shoot her, but the soldier picks him off first, and Heuring actually thanks him for saving her from a distraction he created), his lack of coherency as a director (action scenes often feature entirely cutaways to things happening within fifteen feet of each other, yet are so divorced from any sort of centered geography that could essentially be happening anywhere), and a sprinkling of religious references that feel half-hearted and entirely out of place. And again, all of the above occurs within the movie's first 45 minutes, at which point I couldn't bring myself to devote another second of my life to watching whatever was going to happen next.
Sony's art for Cross features a generic photo (the cast, standing!) and pleasing, vivid colors that should catch a few eyes on the shelf. A boxed tagline with a comic-ish font conveys the movie's intended tone and style. The back cover is more of that cast standing around, and there is an insert for Sony Bravia televisions inside the case.
The Video and Audio
Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, Cross gets a transfer that generally looks pretty good. Colors are strong, black levels are adequate, and there are several times when fine detail is superb. Still, whenever there are captions on-screen, they're surrounded by off-putting artifacts, which is both distracting and ugly.
Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is a step up from the usual DTV stuff. Although I wouldn't go out of my way to single out Cross over some mixes I've listened to, the bigger scenes pack a decent amount of punch and weight that is usually missing from cheaper or low-budget stuff prepared for home video. Dialogue scenes are less impressive, which sound essentially like production audio with little oomph. French and Spanish 5.1 tracks are also included, as well as English, French, and Spanish subtitles, and separate English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing (a nice touch that's usually reserved for Blu-Ray).
Although I never got to see the existing ending, an alternate ending (0:34) doesn't contain any real resolution, leading me to believe it's more of an extension to the ending rather than a true alternate, or perhaps just a piece of the ending that spares Jake Busey's character. A reel of deleted scenes (8:31) includes an alternate opening of Cross and the gang gearing up for battle, and a thrilling scene in which Michael Clarke Duncan calls a guy and tells him to "meet me at the office," then chuckles. A confusing and supremely silly looking alternate opening animatic (1:00) closes out the video extras, and there is also a feature-length commentary by Patrick Durham that I just couldn't bring myself to listen to.
An updated trailer for Sony Blu-Ray discs plays before the main menu, followed by trailers for Insidious, The Hit List, Quarantine 2: Terminal, Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown, and "Justified": Season One. No trailer for Cross has been included.
On IMDb, a remarkable 43 associate, executive, and regular producers are credited for Cross. 43 people put in some amount of their hard-earned money to bring Cross to the screen. And I can tell you that without a doubt, not one shred of evidence that any of that money was spent on anything worth creating or watching appears in the first 45 minutes of the final product. About midway through that chunk of the running time, a character comments, "There are a lot of bad dudes out there." That seems to be the only reason Cross exists, as a character, or as a movie, and it's not enough to warrant more than 45 minutes of waiting for the movie to do something right. Skip it.
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