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Review of Amazon Prime Thriller ‘Crisis’ about the opioid trafficking epidemic

Crisis

‘CRISIS’ is a drama-thriller about opioids, medicines like Fentanyl and OxyContin that are used to alleviate severe pain. This has become an epidemic of sorts since a lot of users get addicted to it, just like to narcotics. This movie is for opioids like the Oscar-winning “Traffic” by Steven Soderbergh is for cocaine.

Crisis

“Crisis” starts with a young man traveling in the snow-filled border of U.S. and Canada when he is arrested by cops, but the film actually focuses on three lead characters with intertwining stories. First is a Drug Enforcement Agent, Jake Kelly (Armie Hammer), who has gone under cover in Montreal to break up a drug syndicate trafficking in opioids led by a man called Mother (Guy Nadon).

Then theres a university professor, Dr. Tyrone Brower (Gary Oldman), in charge of the clinical studies for a new pain killer that is supposed to be non-addictive. But the results of his studies show that this is not true and it’s in fact even more addicting than other existing opioids.

His boss, Dean Talbot (Greg Kinnear), orders him to suppress his findings and allow the drug to be released in the market. If he wouldn’t cooperate, he will lose his tenure in their university and also a huge grant from Northlight Pharmaceuticals that is marketing the new drug. Dr. Brower is a man of integrity and he refuses to be intimidated by all the grave threats against him.

The third major character is a female architect, Claire Reimann (Evangeline Lilly of “Lost” and “Antman”), herself a recovering addict. She’s hosting dinner one night and asks her teenage son to buy something for her after his school. He doesn’t return home and is later found foaming in the mouth, allegedly due to drug overdose, which Claire doesn’t buy at all. She makes her own investigation and it eventually leads her to Mother. She then plans to exact revenge on him on her own.

The story of the grieving mother is the most involving of the three strands in the movie. Evangeline Lilly is truly touching and has several scenes where she stands out, foremost of which is the scene in the morgue where she has to identify her son’s remains.

Although a recovering addict, she has a close relationship with the boy and we can understand her feelings of remorse for her past addiction and her son’s sudden passing. We can feel the agony of her losing him and it’s truly heartbreaking, so we can understand her desire for vengeance.

Gary Oldman also does well as the professor who is pressured by his superiors to junk the findings of his scientific research just so they won’t lose the funding they get from big pharmaceutical business. At first, we thought his loyalty would be with the company funding the research but it turns out that it’s his bosses who have lost their sense of morality for the sake of profit and he is the fearless whistleblower.

Armie Hammer is believable as the devoted DEA agent who is so determined to bust the drug dealers as his own sister Emmy (Lily Rose Depp, daughter of Johnny Depp) is a victim and has become a hopeless junkie who keeps on escaping from rehab. Too bad for Hammer as, just when the film is about to be released, he got involved in a sexual abuse scandal that overshadowed the film’s release and will no doubt harm his career.

Michelle Rodriguez is also in the movie, playing a very minor role as Hammer’s supervisor in the DEA. Her meagre exposure here is nothing compared to her demanding action roles in the “Fast & Furious” franchise.

No doubt that Director Nicholas Jarecki, who also wrote the screenplay, is very serious minded in his intentions for this project, but sorry, it doesn’t get anywhere as engrossing as Soderbergh’s “Traffic”. The end result just falls far short of its well-intentioned and socially relevant aims.

The performances of the three leads are uniformly fine but as a crime thriller, the storytelling is quite spotty and does not come together in a truly coherent or riveting manner. It gets interesting only when the paths of Lilly and Hammer finally intersect in the film’s climactic shootout.

Even if Oldman never meets Hammer or Lily, it’s his story that shows how unscrupulous corporations can disregard public safety for the sake of big profits and how they can use academic institutions for their own selfish motives despite adverse implications to society.

Publication Source :    People's Journal
Mario Bautista
Former member: Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (Urian)