There is a great deal of importance in the story behind the new film from writer/director Nicholas Jarecki. Crisis tells three intertwined tales, each revolving around prescription drugs’ effect and the damage that opioids have on users. Jake Kelly (Armie Hammer) is an undercover agent going after a dangerous cartel. Dr. Tyrone Brower (Gary Oldman) is a professor who discovers a shocking truth behind a new painkiller that is “non-addictive.” And finally, Claire Reimann (Evangeline Lilly) is a mother who is recovering from oxycodone addiction. What follows is an intriguing examination of just how deadly painkillers such as Fentanyl can be. It is a fascinating story, one that brings a little light to an important topic.
Let’s start with Claire Reimann. This is perhaps the most heartbreaking storyline in the film. Claire is a woman who was prescribed oxycodone by her doctor after an accident. And soon, she realizes her battles are just beginning. When she discovers her son may be involved with a group of drug dealers, she desperately seeks out the truth. Lilly gives one of the best performances in the film. As a woman struggling with addiction herself, the realization that her son David (Billy Bryk) may have been involved with narcotics is something that is all too real for many a parent. While this particular storyline takes an interesting turn, later on, it is by far the most emotionally charged of the three. Much of that can be credited to the excellent work from Ms. Lilly.
It would almost be unheard of for a movie about the illegal distribution of narcotics, not to include an undercover operation. This time around involves Jake Kelly, a man connected to a dangerous group of thugs dealing in Fentanyl. Led by Armie Hammer as Jake, this section of the film tackles the crime element that inevitably happens. While it is certainly well-acted, it follows a more traditional path of an undercover agent desperately trying to take down a cartel. That’s not to say it doesn’t work. There are moments here that help move the story along. One such element involves Jake’s sister Emmie (Lily-Rose Depp), and the young actress is terrific as a junkie looking for her next fix.
And finally, Gary Oldman is Dr. Tyrone Brower, and his story may be the most disturbing. While researching a brand new “non-addictive” painkiller, he makes the connection that the new drug is far from what it claims to be. Brower decides to share his knowledge less conventionally as a whistleblower after his colleagues try and convince him to drop it. Thus, the good doctor risks his family and future to warn others of the new drug’s dangers. Oldman is terrific here, as is Greg Kinnear as Dean Talbot, a man who isn’t supportive of Dr. Brower stirring up trouble for the University. It’s a fascinating look at the lengths large pharmaceutical companies will go to to protect their investments.
Jarecki’s exploration on this subject may be something we’ve seen before, but it’s an important reminder of how deadly addiction can be. Especially when oftentimes the victims become just another statistic. Even when one storyline crosses paths with another in a slightly clunky way, it still manages to work. The message here is clear and potent. There is still a real danger in some prescription drugs, especially when addiction is all too often treated as something criminal. It’s hard not to appreciate what the filmmaker had in mind, and thankfully, he does a nice job of exploring each story without straying too far from the others.
As well, this is an impressively shot feature, one that manages to keep things moving urgently. Along with cinematographer Nicolas Bolduc, the filmmaker creates a larger picture than life yet grounded enough to make an impact. It also helps that he brings in the level of talent on display here. I have to give credit to some of the supporting cast, including Michelle Rodriguez, Luke Evans, Kid Cudi, and Martin Donovan. The message here is an important one. And it’s something that this trio of stories delves into satisfyingly. Crisis may explore some familiar territory, but it manages to do so in an engaging way. This is a story that remains relevant and certainly shouldn’t be forgotten.