February 23rd, 2021
STARRING: GARY OLDMAN, ARMIE HAMMER, EVANGELINE LILLY, GREG KINNEAR, MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ, LUKE EVANS
DIRECTED BY: NICHOLAS JARECKI
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 1 STAR (Out of 4)
Besides the fact that Armie Hammer has been having his own personal crisis, a stream of strange text messages released where he suggests he enjoys eating human flesh, accusations of abuse towards women, and sudden exits from movies in production, that still isn’t the only issues surrounding Nicholas Jarecki’s Crisis. The effort from Jarecki is oddly admirable, trying to stuff nine-hundred pounds into a five pound bag, and thinking it can be a success. Crisis is a drama that attempts to be like Paul Haggis’ Crash or Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, taking on the opioid epidemic in the United States, with a large cast of characters coincidentally connected. Sometimes that can work, but with Crisis each narrative is disjointed, painfully distant from the other, making it incredibly hard to care about any of the drama going on. Crisis is catastrophic.
From the get go, Crisis has such a packed cast of actors that it’s best to keep the Leonardo DiCaprio pointing meme from Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood by your side. Hey! There’s Armie Hammer. Hey! There’s Gary Oldman. Hey! There’s Evangeline Lilly. And Greg Kinnear, and Michelle Rodriguez, and even Luke Evans. It’s so stuffed that actors such as Kid Cudi, Indira Varma, Lily-Rose Depp, and Martin Donavan must be showing up just for the paycheck and free vacation. It’s not like their characters are that important to the plot anyway. Crisis has so many actors and so many criss-crossing stories, it’s impossible to keep it all straight.
The core narrative is three points: Armie Hammer is Jake Kelly, an undercover federal agent, in with the Russian mafia that sells copious amounts of pills, with hopes to take them down. Evangeline Lilly is Claire Reimann, is a mother impacted by the opioid issue when her son dies from one time taking the illegal drugs. Then there is Gary Oldman as Dr. Tyrone Broker, a professor at a college doing clinical trials on a new drug that’s being peddled as non-habit forming, but of course the pills are killing kids like Claire’s son, so Oldman’s on the warpath to make sure the FDA never approves it. That’s not sitting well with the drug company and CEO Bill Simmons (Evans) so they pressure the college president (Greg Kinnear) to ruin Oldman’s life. It’s all a lot of bluster, some minor sub-plots that seem trivial, and unfocused when Crisis would be better suited focusing on just one narrative instead of twelve.
On top of all the narrative structure problems, Jarecki also has a pacing issue. Crisis is long and painful. It’s the kind of movie that has a runtime close to two hours and it feels like forty. Ben-Hur moves quicker than this thing and by the time we get around to Hammer’s character attempting to set up a sting operation on the Russians, you care very little for who lives and who dies. The opioid crisis is a legit issue in the United States and it’s something that Jarecki tries to shine a light on, but he would say more with much less.
For Jarecki it’s a miss, although I still know that he’s capable of better films. His earlier film Arbitrage was a thrilling drama, in the vein of works like Michael Clayton or The Firm. But Crisis is a big whiff. It’s the equivalent to a home run hitter throwing all of his weight behind a swing, trying to crush the ball, and instead he’s now in the hospital with a torn back muscle. It’s the fact that this movie tries so hard, and fails miserably, that’s the real Crisis.
CRISIS IS IN THEATERS THIS WEEKEND FEBRUARY 26TH AND ON DIGITAL & ON DEMAND MARCH 5TH
Written by: Leo Brady