Opioid Thriller 'Crisis' Doesn't Have the Payoff to Match Its Noble Intentions

Directed by Nicholas Jarecki

Starring Gary Oldman, Evangeline Lilly, Armie Hammer, Kid Cudi, Lily-Rose Depp, Greg Kinnear, Michelle Rodriguez, Luke Evans

BY Michael Vecchio Published Mar 23, 2021

An all-star cast, a screenplay based on pressing current events, and a sincere look at emotional issues make writer-director Nicholas Jarecki's Crisis seem, on the surface, to be a compelling and socially astute film. But despite ticking all the boxes, the movie ultimately becomes a predictable and generic suspense outing, albeit one with noble intentions in spotlighting the opioid epidemic.

The movie follows three narratives related to the opioid crisis — stories that are seemingly unrelated other than all concerning the consequences of drugs.

There is scientist Dr. Tyrone Brower (a forceful and consistently reliable Gary Oldman), who discovers a disturbing truth regarding the pharmaceutical company that is funding his research. Jake Kelly (Armie Hammer) an undercover agent, is driven to bring down a fentanyl smuggling ring after his own sister's struggle with addiction. And then there is Evangeline Lilly's Claire, a recovering addict trying to cope with her son's disappearance.

Through these crisscrossing storylines, the film attempts to create tension and uncertainty. Claire and Jake follow various leads and face diverse challenges in their respective quests, while Dr. Brower continuously feels the pressure to stay silent while battling with his own moral questions about right and wrong. There are good moments of action and suspense in Crisis, but, as a whole, the film never fully succeeds in being a taut thriller or offering any profound insights into the opioid threat.

Co-stars Greg Kinnear, Michelle Rodriguez and Luke Evans help sustain the three leads, but, even at an fairly standard run time of 118 minutes, Crisis simultaneously drags and rushes; it plods through exposition points until the next action payoff, even as the subject matter seems to warrant more time for deeper exploration..

By trying to make both an illuminating exposé on the deadly consequences of the opioid crisis and a visceral thriller, Nicholas Jarecki juggles too much; Crisis is a fine film that will leave many audiences entertained and perhaps informed. Still, this could have been a more incisive, thrilling and emotional watch. Crisis will in the long run likely be another forgotten movie, perhaps finding life on television reruns.
(Elevation Pictures)

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