Movie Review: ‘Crisis’

Director: Nicholas Jarecki

Cast: Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer, Evangeline Lilly, Greg Kinnear, Michelle Rodriguez, Lily-Rose Depp, Kid Cudi

Plot: A group of unrelated people find their lives intersecting through their involvement in the development, illegal distribution, ethics and dangers of opioids.

Review: The opioid crisis the USA is weirdly underrepresented in media and political discussion considering the impact it is having on the population. This is a gritty, grounded in reality look at the issue by utilising a cross-section of characters whose lives have been ruined by the drug in the city of Detroit. Our three principal characters are DEA Agent Jake Kelly (Hammer), who has been setting up a complex supply chains to the underworld from across the Canadian border with the intent to bring down an entire network. And his sister is a drug addict. Claire Reiman (Lilly) is a former addict and single mother, whose teenage son unexpectedly dies of an overdose under suspicious circumstances. Finally, there is Dr. Tyrone Brower (Oldman) who is a lecturer and researcher who accidentally discovers that a new opioid heading to market has potentially dire side effects.

This is a cold film, with little room for hope. Kelly is unable to address the problem with opioid distribution without first creating his own chains of supply in the hope of taking down those at the top. This leaves the problems on the street unaddressed while the DEA run high-risk operations while fighting against the bureaucracy of their superiors. Kelly is unable to help even his own sister (Depp), suffering through rehab and liable to take flight at any moment. He eventually crosses paths with Claire on the path to revenge, putting her own life at risk and potentially destroying Kelly’s operation after the local law enforcement agencies have failed her.

Brower’s story is equally dire, and a story we’re already familiar with. Although it’s in the public’s best interest to learn that drug is a risk there’s a multi-billion dollar corporation unwilling to let the truth get in the way of profits. Brower’s finds his public image being publicly disgraced and finds past mistakes becoming headline news. One of the major problems with this storyline is that we get very little information about these past indiscretions except for characters arguing about it. There’s even a hearing where they just tell him he did wrong and he whines about it not being a big deal. They could have brought out a witness or something to help give us a connection to proceedings. For all we know, Brower DID do something terrible and covered it up.

The executives running the evil corporation are also pretty difficult to take seriously. Luke Evans and Veronica Ferres are essentially cartoon characters, turning up every now and then to remind the audience that they straight up don’t care if people die so long as they make money. And yes, this does and has happened in real life, but this isn’t going to make me take it seriously.

Although this is an overwhelmingly huge public issue in the USA, we never get the sense of the scale the movie should be striving to evoke. The story is told in a series of small rooms, rarely on the streets or among the masses struggling with addiction. We go to cramped laboratories to high-end boardrooms, to decrepit homeless shelters, to wide-open deserted Canadian landscapes. If this is your introduction to the opioid crisis then you might walk away with the impression that it’s a niche concern. It’s a good thing that they put some figures in text at the end.

This is a competent film, but it fails to bite hard enough to give the real-world problem the kind of damage it needs. If you’ve got an itch for gritty, political thrillers then this will meet your needs…although you might need to get another hit soon.

Rating: SIX out of TEN