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Crosscut (1995) January 29th, 2023

The privilege of watching a movie without outside influence is essential to keeping the experience and analysis as objective as possible. It’s also a rarity. If the film comes with a sticker boasting it’s 11 Academy Award wins including Best Picture I’m expecting greatness and that affects my viewing experience.

That’s what makes hunting for forgotten straight-to-video movies so liberating. I didn’t know Crosscut existed before we dug it out of a thrift-store dustbin, but it had a guy with a gun on the cover and it hadn’t been rereleased in a more durable format so it must be bad… and that’s great! I’ll either be shocked by how much worse it is than expected or pleasantly surprised to have found a diamond-in-the-Goodwill-rough! Hurray!

The other joy in seeing a movie like Crosscut is I’d bet you haven’t seen it either. Meaning as long as you keep reading, I keep influencing your potential viewing experience. Lucky for me I know you’re not concerned about spoilers because… you’re STILL reading. Great, spoilers ahead.

Crosscut is so dumb. Martin, a New York City mobster, kills his mob boss’ son when the kid got out of line and murdered another member of their crew (Family? Is that what you call a group of mobsters? A mob? That doesn’t seem right. Neither does gang. A murder seems the most appropriate but that’s for the birds). Unable to make amends with the boss, Martin skips town over to… Oregon? Seems like more than enough to space to completely disappear in the pre-social media age but Martin’s not so sure. He holes up in an old family cabin (pro tip: if you’re hiding from the mob don’t start by hiding in property you own). Martin makes an immediate and uncomplicated jump from mobster to logger when he’s hired on to a struggling timber company. Ya see, Crosscut is from 1995, a time when environmental terrorists were ruining lazy capitalism with their ‘conservation’ and ‘activism’. These specific environmentalists are accused of spiking trees in their efforts to save a species of owl in the area our loggers intend to harvest and that’s bad for business.

Thrust into the crazy world of Oregon logging, Martin soon finds himself at odds with his coworker Max, not because he’s a big-city outsider, but because Martin’s thrusting his way into Max’s family, specifically his widowed sister. Her son is on the logging crew too and has ideas on how to log around the protected owl sanctuary but Max won’t have it, he’s resigned to picking fights with Martin and drowning himself in bourbon and beer. Their conflict reaches its climax when Max, as a ‘joke’, brings down a huge tree on top of Martin. His aim is off and the tree falls toward his nephew Jeff. Martin and another member of the crew race to save Jeff, Martin succeeds, but the other logger is crushed to death by the enormous tree.

After the logger’s funeral the mobsters catch up to Martin. They murder the local bartender and make their way to Martin’s cabin where they have their final shootout. Before dying, the bartender calls the sheriff, informing him of the mobsters’ plans. The sheriff decides he’s going to take them all on by himself, loads his gun in the station and shouts to anyone who’ll listen “I’ll blow their balls off!” Perfection.

The sheriff doesn’t even get a shot off before the mobsters explode his chest into USDA grade Z hamburger. A textbook shootout follows with Martin picking off the mobsters before the logging crew joins the fray. This is actually the best part of the movie because they bring their logging equipment to a gun fight. Not chainsaws like an environmental Evil Dead but huge logging vehicles wielding felled trees as weapons to crush and maim these city folk. Nearly everyone dies in this fight but Martin makes it out ok and so does his girlfriend and her son. I think the movie ends with them getting on a train but honestly… who cares?

I can’t rightly recommend Crosscut to anyone. I can’t even recommend it to you because if you’re reading this, then I’ve influenced your take. I enjoyed this dull movie because it transported me to a time when there wasn’t so much pressure to watch the newest water cooler movie everyone’s talking about and can’t stop recommending. A time when I could walk into a video store exclusively judging movies by their covers. Knowing nothing more than that face value lent a freedom to the movie watching experience that I don’t find as accessible with modern films and streaming services. Crosscut gave me the chance to experience that thrill again. Thanks Crosscut, but honestly you’re shit and no-one should watch you.

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