Streaming Releases: Crossbreed (2019) - Reviewed

Hey, remember Predator? Or Alien? Or the Delta Force movies? Sure you do! "Men on a mission" is an action staple, from all the way back to Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai up into the 21st century with films like Inglourious Basterds and the Expendables series. Like Expendables, the new film Crossbreed takes its aim at that most nostalgic of action movie decades, the 1980s. But there's a fine line between "earnest homage" and "piecemeal rip-off", and its's one that Crossbreed never manages to, well, cross.

Crossbreed stars the fantastically named Stink Fisher as "Boss" Ryker, a down-on-his-luck bounty hunter hired by the President of the United States (Vivica A. Fox, with support from Catherine Zeta-Jones's wig from Chicago, playing what we're told is the first ever cinematic African-American female President) for a mission in space. After all, who could say no to such a potentially lucrative job? Boss assembles his team, and is transported to a decommissioned Navy submarine--er, orbiting research facility, to retrieve the dangerous cargo.  As one might expect, the hunters soon become the hunted.

Pop. Six. Squish. Uh-uh. Cicero. Lipschitz.

One could hardly swing a dead alien without hitting half a dozen "men on a mission" action movies in the 1980s, of varying degrees of quality. But what sets Crossbreed apart from the rest of the pack is... well, actually, nothing. Action movie tropes become tropes because more often than not, they work, but a filmmaker still needs to bring something unique to the table. Crossbreed mashes together elements of all sorts of movies into a chunky but flavorless stew of familiarity, like some sort of action movie version of a Seltzer-Friedberg jukebox "spoof" movie. With its recycled sets, questionable effects, and a team of tough guys so unremarkable you can hardly tell them apart if they're not shouting each other's names, Crossbreed aims to be a bad-ass low budget grindhouse action flick but continuously misses its target. Crossbreed doesn't even muster an unintentional chuckle, somewhat remarkably figuring out how to take a movie like this and make it boring.

The goggles! They do nothing!

Crossbreed is a way-too-straight-faced homage to '80s sci-fi action that forgets to be distinctive, or interesting, or fun. You get what writer-director Brandon Slagle was going for, but intent can only take you so far, and sooner or later you have to give the audience something. And "something" doesn't mean poorly recycled tropes from much better movies. If you want to have a good old fashioned, rollicking good time, you'd be much better off just rewatching one of the movies listed above.  It would almost certainly be a better use of your two hours than the 86 ho-hum minutes of Crossbreed. There may have been worse action movies, but some of those are at least worth remembering. Crossbreed is an experience that deserves to be easily and mercifully forgotten, if not ignored entirely.

--Mike Stec