OPIOID DRAMA ‘CRISIS’ MISSES THE MARK
“Crisis,” an attempted thriller about the opioid epidemic, unfortunately doesn’t bring the experience home.
The movie is a multiple-narrative look at the misuse of the likes of fentanyl, oxycodone and heroin that, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, afflicted more than 1.6 million Americans in 2019. It’s a raging epidemic exacting a dreadful human toll, but “Crisis” doesn’t share it in a meaningful, emotional way.
There are three storylines: DEA agent Jake (Armie Hammer) wants to take out both Armenian American and Canadian cartels by setting up a fentanyl sting; recovering-addict mom Claire (Evangeline Lilly) goes on a mission of vengeance; and principled professor Tyrone (Gary Oldman) discovers something very wrong with a soon-to-market designer opioid.
The sting scenario is handled sufficiently, though in a paint-by-numbers fashion. It fails to thrill or surprise, its turns visible miles away. Hammer’s driven performance helps, but the film’s attempt to motivate Jake by giving him an addicted sister (Lily RoseDepp) feels artificial.
The most compelling storyline is the professor vs. Big Pharma and his own university. Oldman (an executive producer on the film) convincingly portrays Tyrone’s inner struggle as he risks losing everything to try to head off a public-health crisis, if his data are correct. Even then, writer-director Nicholas Jarecki (“Arbitrage”) stacks the deck. The super-drug that’s not supposed to be addictive turns out to be three times as addictive as OxyContin and will kill users in 10 days to boot. Somehow the drug company didn’t notice that in its years of development and doesn’t mind the countless wrongful-death lawsuits sure to flood the courts.
Whatever its goals, the filmmaking is uninspired. It’s heavily reliant on clichés, especially in its use of score, the lonewolf cop and familiar devices to build tension.