With heavy inspiration drawn from movies like Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, Nicholas Jarecki’s Crisis takes a look at America’s addiction to opioids via three separate stories and makes as effective a statement as Mr. Garrison when he tells the kids of South Park, “Drugs are bad, m’kay.” Even with an A-list cast, and an intriguing setup, Jarecki’s latest feels like there should be more to make that impact for which it strives. An extra 30 minutes could have done just that, or even extending it to a mini-series. And the movie is already two hours as is.
Every character involved has some connection to the opioid crisis or is an addict themselves. And yet there’s not a single moment in which any of the stories are the slightest bit engaging. It’s a flat presentation of facts that the majority of people already know, and each bit of development is a retread of something that has been done before and done much better.
One of the most interesting aspects of Crisis is that it features Armie Hammer pre-scandal. Granted, it’s not a great performance, but it’s coincidental that he’s in a movie around the same time that he’s making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Hammer plays a DEA agent trying to take down two big trafficking rings, by acting like a member of one of them. When he’s not at work, he’s taking care of his sister, who is currently struggling to get through rehab.
Gary Oldman plays a professor named Tyrone Brower (awesome name), whose lab was hired to test a new painkiller being marketed as “non-addictive” on mice. Of course, there are many obstacles that get in the way that rattle his life and his career, but the movie’s twists and turns are so routine that none of it is surprising.
The third big story, and the most intriguing of them all, involves Evangeline Lilly as a recovering addict whose journey has been successful thus far. It then gets rattled when her son ends up dead of an apparent overdose. However, the mother knows her son best and is highly suspicious of the cause of death. So, she sets out on a journey to find the truth behind her son’s death.
There’s a good movie somewhere in Crisis, but it all feels jumbled and underdeveloped. We barely get a chance to get involved in a character and their story before it switches to another story. Side characters that should serve a bigger purpose are nothing more than just side characters. The big moments that should be shocking don’t come across that way, because there’s so little involvement in the stories.
A movie like Crisis should be released in this day and age, especially when reports are continuously coming out about people’s addiction to them during the COVID pandemic. It’s perfectly timed, but it spends too much time delivering exposition and already-known facts, and less time on being a tense, involving drama. An all-around letdown.