Crisis is a new crime drama that’s desperately trying to get out from underneath the shadow of 2000’s Oscar-winning Traffic like so many of the clones that emerged around that time. Three separate stories about the opioid epidemic never quite come together in a satisfying way, though just honing in on one of them could’ve made for a clearer and more focused picture. There aren’t any weak spots in the cast, so no complaints on that front. I’d go so far as to say that both Evangeline Lilly and Armie Hammer are great. Writer/director Nicholas Jarecki is clearly overflowing with important and meaningful themes and ideas, but it’s a shame the film never takes them anywhere substantial or into unexplored territory.
Three stories running simultaneously chart the dangerous effects of the opioid epidemic: Jake (Armie Hammer) is a DEA agent who concocts a pill-mill scheme to bring down both the Armenians and Canadians and the emerging horrors of fentanyl; Claire is a high-strung mother desperately trying to discover the mystery behind her son’s death by oxy overdose; and Tyrone (Gary Oldman) is a doctor experimenting with lab rats who discovers through a clinical trial that a drug may be deadly to humans.
The three tales never connect in a satisfying way, and there’s no real ending here that justifies this disparity. Even still, Crisis is never boring and at its best actually has many thrilling and emotionally-charged dramatic sequences. Evangeline Lilly’s chunk of the movie is far more interesting than the others and feels like it should’ve been a separate movie all its own. There’s a great movie here that’s struggling to escape under the weight of the other two stories, one of which is your stereotypical DEA undercover operation while the other sees a researcher anxious to become a whistleblower to save lives. Imagine for a moment that this film was a full-blown thriller with Claire hunting down everyone responsible for her son’s death and the vast amount of wasted potential becomes obvious. That said, this isn’t terrible by any means, but it’s a film that is far too predictable that doesn’t have enough to say. Crisis releases nationwide on Friday, February 26th, followed by a digital and on-demand release March 5th.