Sony // 2011 // 105 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker // June 17th, 2011
To stop an ancient evil, it's gonna take big guns, hard sticks, and exploding balls.
Callan (Brian Austin Green, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) is a low-key, modern-day vigilante with some superhero powers. The powers come from a cross his father gave him when he was a child. In times of stress, this clunky-looking amulet glows green, and makes Callan look all edge enhanced; however, he does become impervious to bullets. Sadly, his father made the mistake of going out one night uncrossed and wound up with four slugs in his back.
The adult Callan has assembled a team of violent do-gooders who help him keep the streets of LA safe. But even with all the do-gooding, Callan is morose. He still grieves for Dad, and for a girlfriend who was picked off while she and Callan were fighting bad guys.
The Most Bad Person on the West Coast is the droning Erlik (Michael Clarke Duncan, Sin City), and he becomes an even Worse Person when he teams up with the More Bad Gunnar (Vinnie Jones, Snatch). Gunnar's bad because he's under some kind of curse; he's been condemned to live forever or sail around the world with an albatross around his neck, or something; I dunno. Anyway, Gunnar needs the blood of the descendants of the gods, all of whom, through some stroke of luck, are pretty girls with no discernible acting ability living in LA.
Will Gunnar assemble the blood samples he needs to power-up a big stick that can destroy mankind? Or will heroic Team Glum be able to stop him? Or, will Detective Nitti (Tom Sizemore, Black Hawk Down), who sees the crime-fighting rogues as mere vigilantes, thwart the good guys, effectively bringing about Armageddon?
The answers are not as interesting as you might think. As a matter-of-fact, if you make it through Cross in one sitting without nodding off, you might be a superhero in your own right.
Most action films set out to give you an adrenaline rush, but Cross is like an Ambien with a Xanax chaser. This painfully slow and amateurish "action" movie offers up all the dubious pleasures of a nano-budget, direct-to-DVD indie only with a few spot-the-faded-star moments as a diversion.
It's rare to see a film as badly put together as this one. It starts out promisingly enough, with comic-book panels giving us some background on the various mythologies that will make up the plot of the film. We even get our first "name star" cameo: a few seconds of Danny Trejo muttering menacingly into the camera. After the credits, we get the flashback to Callan's father, and a bit more mythology.
Then everything goes to hell -- not the sort of kinetic hell you'd expect in an action film, but more of a slow-death hell.
While there are a few generic and not-very-compelling action sequences, most of Cross is talk. Characters talk about what they are going to do before they do it. They talk about the mythology. They talk at length about a location they're going to, and when they arrive, a screen graphic helpfully reinforces the fact that they're there.
They talk about other characters, and in case you've dozed off, yet another graphic sums things up for you.
Now, if this were sparkling banter delivered by actors with even a rudimentary sense of timing, then Cross might be a cleverly written adventure comedy. But it's not. Most of the drawn-out dialogue consists of iterating or reiterating bits of information, with the exchanges so awkward, the actors seem like first-time YouTube performers. That the whole thing seems to have been shot on a YouTube budget doesn't help.
The few action sequences are by the numbers, and since our good guys always win handily, there's no sense of urgency. They mainly consist of indistinguishable good guys running around a warehouse (or some comparable set) shooting at nondescript bad guys; you can tell who the bad guys are by their cartoonish death pratfalls.
The "Cross" of the title gets surprisingly little play. Characters talk about it a lot (like everything else), but we only see it in action once or twice, and it really doesn't do a whole lot. Maybe the expectation was that we'd be wowed by the big finish that involves the Cross shooting out a green CGI lightbeam, but after sitting through an aimless, convoluted, and near-incomprehensible plot about bloodlines of the gods, a bad guy's immortality, an evil staff, an end-of-days threat, a hero's sadness, plus subplots involving day-to-day crime fighting, an angry cop, a hero's new and insipid girlfriend, a gang of yawn-inducing villains, and some deadly dull heroes, I was wowed by simply seeing the words "The End" appear on my screen.
The disc from Sony is fine: good looking transfer, clean, clear audio, and a decent supplemental package that includes a director's commentary and some deleted and alternate scenes.
So dull that it squanders the inherently hilarious notion of Brian Austin Green: Superhero, Cross is a tedious exercise in how not to make a cheesy action/fantasy film. Avoid.
Review content copyright © 2011 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Alternate Scenes
* Alternate Opening Anamatic