Michael is a border patrol officer who has a dark past as a gang member. When he breaks up a drug deal with associates of his former gang, they pay him a visit and make him an offer he can’t refuse.

The Lowdown

It seems like Cuba Gooding Jr. is trying to equal Wesley Snipes career. The former Oscar winning actor for Jerry Maguire continues to prove every day the award might have been a fluke and unlike fellow Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, doesn’t seem to be doing anything to improve his stake in Hollywood.

Gooding plays Michael Dixon, a border patrol officer. When the film starts, Dixon and his partner find a truck filled with dead illegal immigrants. As they search for the people responsible, they come across a house and his partner gets shot in the stomach. Michael returns fire and kills two of the men but when he faces the third, a younger black kid, he freezes and lets him get away. He also lies to his superiors about the third man and we soon find out the two have an old connection.

Michael used to be Mad Dog, a high ranking gang member and the kid he saw at the gunfight was a member of that same gang. The two men he killed were supposed to help his former gang transport drugs across the borders. Because the gang believes Michael owes them for screwing up their plans, they take siege on his house and tell him if he doesn’t help them retrieve the drugs they will kill his wife and child.

There are things to like about this B-level movie effort. First and foremost is the acting on hand. Cuba Gooding Jr. did not win the Oscar by some fluke. He has good solid talent as an actor and, despite his extremely poor choices of projects, can bring the goods when needed. For every ridiculous film such as Boat Trip and Snow Dogs, there is an As Good As It Gets or Boyz in the Hood to remind you that this man is good actor. I find it sad he lowers himself to trash like Norbit and Daddy Day Camp when there are a number of good directors like Ridley Scott (American Gangster) who are happy to have him in their pictures. Linewatch is not as low as the aforementioned flops, but the script that led him to the picture is nothing to write home about.

The script is shallow and very simple in that it takes us from plot point A to plot point B without any kind of storytelling ability. There are so many things left unanswered that I question the inclusion of any of the incidents that happen in the film. Michael’s partner is shot in the gut and the last we see of him is in a hospital bed with his wife and young son watching over him. There is a throwaway line saying it does not look good but then we never hear from him again. We don’t know if he lived or died. He was only added to make Michael realize it might be time for him to get out of the southwest once and for all.

There is another incident where Michael sits with his wife after she learns about his past for the first time. She tells him she is afraid, not because there are gang members downstairs, but because she does not know who Michael really is. Michael leaves and does the job and then takes a bullet. She then tells him she knows he will protect her because he is a good man. However, in between those two events he does nothing to prove to her one way or the other that she has any reason not to fear his past. It is weak screenwriting and the entire movie fails because of this.

The director is former music director and television stalwart Kevin Bray. He takes the weak script and gives it all the life he can. He was last seen in the very fun Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson film Walking Tall, and has a great eye for landscape shots. He shoots a beautiful picture with some really good young actors but this script brought the movie crashing down before it ever started rolling.

The Package

Crossing Borders: Behind the Scenes of Linewatch (18:39) – The producers explain their intent with this movie is to approach the immigration issues from a different point of view. “You can’t stop it, so we want to approach how to deal with it.” The feature is kind of shallow but remains interesting throughout. It is nothing new or Earth shattering and has a little too many talking heads.