Saturday 10 June 2023

Movie Review: Crisis (2021)

Genre: Crime Drama
Director: Nicholas Jarecki
Starring: Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer, Evangeline Lilly, Greg Kinnear, Michelle Rodriguez
Running Time: 118 minutes

Synopsis: Three stories related to the opioid addiction crisis are set in Detroit and Montreal: DEA agent Jake (Armie Hammer) works an undercover operation to bring down ruthless gangs involved in pill distribution and manufacturing on both side of the border; addicted mother Claire (Evangeline Lilly) investigates the sudden death of her teenaged son; and university researcher Dr. Bower (Gary Oldman) is pressured to ignore lab results that could undermine approval of the latest opioid developed by a powerful pharmaceutical company.

What Works Well: Writer and director Nicholas Jarecki creates a competent companion piece to Traffic (2000), providing each story with sharply defined characters and a good share of screen time. Artificial constructs are avoided, allowing the three plots to only lightly interact. The enforcement, personal, and business angles provide a steady stream of punctuation marks in the form of action, shock, and dilemmas both ethical and financial. Armie Hammer, Gary Oldman, and Evangeline Lilly lean-in to their roles with requisite earnestness.

What Does Not Work As Well: Underdeveloped side-characters and messy loose ends (Claire's addiction; Jake's sister; Dr. Bower's numerous colleagues and foes) create a tangle of distractions. While the core subject matter still harbours potency, the narrative is barely distinguishable from daily headlines, and is delivered with enough mechanical efficiency to double down on the inherent intractability of the crisis.

Conclusion: Cold, cogent, and capable, but not creative

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