“Crisis,” a crime drama about opioid addiction, is surprisingly decent. Writer / director Nicholas Jarecki lends a pedigree to this forgettable but not terrible story with three interconnected plot lines. The performances are much better than you’d expect and the dramatic moments are engaging enough to warrant a mild recommendation.
Using the world’s opioid crisis as the basis for a popcorn-style movie may seem off-putting, but it sets the stage for a trio of stories that aren’t all that far fetched. The first storyline is about a university professor (Gary Oldman) who is struggling with his research findings on a new non-addictive painkiller and the big pharmaceutical company who is bankrolling his study. He wants to become a whistleblower but faces too much money, power, and government influence to save lives.
Storyline number two focuses on a DEA agent (Armie Hammer) who is part of a complex undercover investigation into the drug trafficking operations of a large cartel that is smuggling fentanyl into the U.S. across the Canadian border. The final storyline is about a former Oxycodone addict (Evangeline Lilly) who is desperately trying to track down the truth behind her teenage son’s sudden disappearance. Tying all three together into one plot feels forced, but it works because most of the scenarios seem plausible (to a point).
The film is well-made and acted, with effective performances from Oldman and Lilly in particular. You may forget almost everything about this movie as soon as the final credits roll, but their turns will stick with you a little while longer.
Jarecki is well-suited to direct a film like this, and his style reflects the discouraging view (and unfortunate truth) presented: most people who try to do the right thing are often thwarted by the system. “Crisis” certainly isn’t feel-good entertainment, but it’s a slightly better than average thriller that raises some interesting points about the growing problem of prescription medication abuse in our country.