“Imagine a place where all dimensions of the universe collide…”
Director: Krishna Rao
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Josh Charles, Stuart Wilson
Synopsis: A young man discovers that his father was from another dimension and that he is the key to the operation of a crystal that can be the deciding factor in a war crossing the dimensions.
At the time of writing, Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, Batman Begins) has 145 credits to his name and I’m willing to bet that the majority of them are in cheaply-made direct-to-video SF or action movies like Crossworlds. There’s little doubt that if every movie ever made was housed in a vast warehouse, the ones like Crossworlds would be stored right at the back on a high shelf obscured by shadows. It’s not a bad movie, and bears some remarkable similarities to a much more famous one that would be released a few years later, but it’s awfully generic, as if the components of its storyline had been selected from some cut-price menu of ingredients.
The reluctant hero of Crossworlds is Joe Talbot (Josh Charles), a young man whose dead father was a trans-dimensional traveller for a resistance movement dedicated to preventing the Bad Guys With No Group Title from uniting a sacred sceptre and crystal with which they could… erm, well, rule stuff and stop other dimensions from existing or something. Anyway — he knew what he was doing, which is what’s important. Unfortunately, just as Dad discovered the sceptre in the sarcophagus of some long-dead guy, chief Bad Guy Ferris (Stuart Wilson) and a couple of his goons came along killed him. Dad had already acquired the crystal, however, which Josh now wears around his neck in complete ignorance of its value or purpose.
After being blown out by a hot chick at a party because of his lack of chatting up skills, Josh spies a gorgeous young woman (Andrea Roth) who literally disappears before he can speak to her. Later than night she turns up in his bedroom (as they invariably do…) and attempts to relieve him of the crystal while he sleeps. However, Josh wakes up before she can cut the chain from his neck and, before he can find out why a strange but beautiful woman is sitting on him while he sleeps, his bedroom is strafed with machine gun fire. It turns out that the woman, whose name is Laura, is from one of those other dimensions and is trying to get the crystal away from Josh before the men with machine guns can. Laura is a kind of protege of A.T. (Hauer), a mystic sort who lives in a Tardis-type motel room, and who sums up Crossworlds’ plot far more succinctly than I ever could when he grumpily explains to Josh that: “we’re the good guys. They’re the bad guys. They want this. We keep them from getting their hands on it.”
To be honest, that really is all you need to know, because the storyline, which is largely incomprehensible, is merely a device to enable a straightforward ‘Good Guys vs Bad Guys’ story to be told. Hauer goes about his business with the resigned air of a man doing a job in the certain knowledge that it possesses little of merit. That’s not to say Crossroads is a particularly bad movie — it’s just a rather lacklustre one that leaves its audience unmoved in any way. And although it does appear to have drawn some inspiration from Star Wars (with Hauer in the Obi Wan Kenobi role), it’s noticeable how many plot points Crossworlds shares with The Matrix, which was released two years after Crossworlds, in 1999. Both feature a young hero living in ignorance of his pre-ordained mission who is introduced to a new dimension by a capable young woman working under the guidance of a mentor. Hell, both movies even have their bad guys wearing smart business suits. It would be too much of a stretch to say the Wachowski brothers ripped-off the Rao brothers with The Matrix, but I’m willing to bet they saw this movie before they even started writing theirs.
Crossworlds is the kind of modest little picture that knows it won’t live long in the memory of those who watch it, but which sets out to entertain as best it can, nonetheless. And it does entertain if you don’t expect too much from it, and overlook the fact that it continuously fights shy of explaining exactly what’s going on much of the time. While Hauer looks tired and flabby, Stuart Wilson at least gives an engaging performance as the chief Bad Guy, and there’s even a pre-stardom appearance by Jack Black, who serves notice of the brand of high-brow entertainment we can expect from him when he crushes a beer can on his forehead.
(Reviewed 9th April 2014)