Crisis is a dramatic thriller that treats the opioid epidemic from different angles. A star-studded ensemble weaves three different storylines into one climax. Writer / director Nicholas Jarecki (Arbitrage) reveals the causes of opioid addiction from corporate production to criminal trafficking to the deadly consequences on the city streets. The individual chapters are well played and sobering. But the film misses a predictable third act that becomes fabricated and hypocritical.
crisis takes place in Detroit, Michigan and across the Canadian border in Montreal. We are introduced to Claire Reimann (Evangeline Lilly) at an opioid support meeting. Claire is a divorced architect with a teenage son (Billy Bryk) who is recovering from oxycodone. Armie Hammer stars as DEA agent Jake Kelly. He’s been undercover for a year and infiltrated a murderous fentanyl ring. The main cast is rounded off by Dr. Tyrone Bower (Gary Oldman), a university professor researching a groundbreaking new pharmaceutical pain reliever.
Claire returns home from work and finds her son missing. She can’t get any real traction from the police and decides to contact his friends. Dr. Bower and his assistants discover that the new supposedly non-addictive wonder drug is just as deadly as its predecessors. He reports the results to his division manager (Greg Kinnear) and the drug manufacturer’s corporate liaison (Luke Evans). who then try to discredit him. Meanwhile, personal troubles and an unexpected fold disrupt Jake Kelly’s massive drug trafficking. While Dr. Bower, Claire, and Jake struggle to find answers, their paths are inexorably bound to crash.
The crisis creates a real intrigue in the first act. The opioid devastation is portrayed with unvarnished ugliness. Nicholas Jarecki illustrates the connection between junkies and pill mills and the entities that benefit from addiction. The drug cartels are on the same footing as the corporate producers. Corpses and heartbroken families do not affect the bottom line. Profit has no conscience. The three main characters learn this difficult lesson when their lives are destroyed.
The crisis loses focus when it tries to pull the strings together. Initially, a good presentation falls apart with absurd inventions. The film uses random stupid luck and auspicious coincidences to bring the characters together. A critical scene where two leads meet for the first time is absolutely incredible. It is an easy way out of the complex setup. Nicholas Jarecki does this to make a strong statement about opioids and what dark lengths they drive good people to. This point of view is crystal clear from the start. Jarecki needed a better written determination. The ending feels obvious and preaching.
Evangeline Lilly and Armie Hammer are very good here. Her character arcs have the dramatic depth that shows the personal toll of opioid addiction. The film gives the same time to the helicopter perspective of the epidemic, but it’s the ground-level stories that resonate. Any overdose or criminal act leaves despair in those who pick up the pieces. The crisis is compared to Steven Soderbergh’s traffic. It’s nowhere near that league, but it paints a vivid picture of the human cost. So you get a “see” recommendation. Crisis is produced by a consortium led by Les Productions LOD and Bideford Productions. It will be released in theaters on February 26th by Quiver Distribution and domestically a week later on March 5th.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policies or position of Movieweb.