Aged 8, young Callan is told by his father of an ancient Celtic cross handed down through the family over generations. It is traditional to pass it on to the man of the family. He is then to wear it around his neck at all times, in order to benefit from the enormous powers it promises.

Fast-forward thirty years to the present tense, and Callan (Brian Austin Green) is still haunted by both memories of his father handing him the cross moments before his death, and his own more recent tragedy: his failure to prevent his love Zoey from being murdered.

But he must try his best to put such things to one side, as he is now the leader of a hard-as-nails vigilante force. Beneath his command are several weapons experts, bearing names such as Riot (Tim Abell), Backfire (Jake Busey) and War (the film’s writer and director, Patrick Durham).

Their methods of crime prevention have become almost legendary on their city’s mean streets, much to the chagrin of two people in particular: roughneck cop Nitti (Tom Sizemore) and criminal mastermind Erlik (Michael Clarke Duncan).

We first see Callan and his crew in action when they rescue a blonde woman from a mugging that was about to get very ugly indeed. After an almighty shootout on the streets, the woman winds up recovering in the safety of the nearest hospital. There, Nitti visits her and receives confirmation from her that Callan and co were responsible for the bloody mess that’s been left for his boys to clean up. That puts him on the vigilantes’ case.

Meanwhile, Erlik and his caricature cronies are planning to take over the city, and are all too aware of how Callan’s band of brothers (and sisters) are likely to put a spanner in the wheel. So when Erlik hears of a mystical staff that can be brought back into action, thus affording its owner unfathomable powers, he enlists a demented scientist to help him do just that. All that is required is the blood of four descendants of the Egyptian Goddesses who originally made the staff. Uncannily, all four descendants live locally – oh, and they’re all hot females …

Once these women start disappearing from the city streets, it doesn’t take Callan’s mob long to suss out what’s going on. Chiefly because Backfire is something of an expert when it comes to legends about Egyptian staffs. Handy, that.

And so, Callan’s group tool up (utilising everything from cues, to rocket launchers and even exploding spheres) and go looking for a fight. Unbeknownst to them, however, Erlik has yet another ace up his sleeve: a Viking descendant by the name of Gunnar (Vinnie Jones) who possesses special powers of his own which render him the equivalent of a one-man-army. Complete with a Cockney accent.

CROSS (which is Callan’s superhero moniker in the film) is insane. It bills itself as an action comedy and, to a degree, delivers on both promises. There are gags, and turns from Busey and Sizemore especially are amusing. The plot in itself is no less ludicrous than that of, say, AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY. Also, there is plenty of action. Most of it is directed in a clumsy manner which robs it of excitement. But it’s here, regardless.

But this film is a mess. Really. There is a wealth of characters being introduced throughout the first half of the film (does everyone really have to have their name appear in bold text splattered across the screen?) and keeping track of them soon becomes confusing. Especially as they are all one-dimensional, with only Callan being afforded any backdrop or emotional core. Having said that, the less said about his unconvincing romance with self-defence instructor Sunshine (Susie Abromiet), the better …

Between the influx of seemingly random characters and the choppy editing that renders the storyline a total travesty, CROSS is difficult to ever get into. The set-pieces are cheap and amateurish, the script is (deliberately?) risible and Green lacks the charisma to take top billing among a cast that also includes the likes of C Thomas Howell and Robert Carradine. Even Danny Trejo, in a tiny cameo role, can’t save the day.

Sony’s DVD is region 2 encoded and presents the film in a glorious 1.85:1 transfer, enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Colours are bright, images are sharp and flesh tones are accurate in a video presentation that can best be described as excellent.

English audio comes equipped with a nice, well-rounded 5.1 mix. 5.1 mixes are also provided in Spanish and French. Optional subtitles are available in 11 languages, including English for the Hard of Hearing.

A static main menu page leads into a static scene-selection menu allowing access to CROSS via 16 chapters.

Extras begin with an amiable commentary track from Durham. He likes his film more than most.

Seven deleted scenes run for a total of 8 minutes and give you the option of watching them either individually or via the "Play All" function. These come with optional subtitles.

An alternate ending runs for all of 30 seconds. Finally, an alternate opening is shown as a gallery of storyboards with sound effects.

CROSS strives for a balance between comedy and action, going for a colourful comic book-type approach that was perhaps inspired by the success of KICK ASS. But it doesn’t hold a torch to that hit film, instead proving to be a frustrating waste of a talented cast. It’s particularly disappointing to see Sizemore underused to such a degree, as more screen-time for him could’ve bolstered the film a little … maybe.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Sony Pictures Home Ent. UK
Region 2 PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review