Crisis is yet another film about the opioid epidemic that is ravaging the US. The star-studded, award-winning cast should have placed Crisis at the top of several must-watch lists. However, investigations into one actor’s scandal and subsequent allegations have tainted an entire film. Crisis is the action-packed raw truth about the forces behind the opioid problem. However, most audiences will never see it because of the star, Armie Hammer.
The film opens with a young man smuggling drugs through the backcountry between Canada and the US. Turns out, he was a part of a sting headed by undercover US agent Jake, played by Armie Hammer. He not only has to keep the deal together after the arrest, but Jake must also keep tabs on his sister. Lily-Rose Depp plays Jake’s sister, an addict in recovery after an overdose that left permanent damage to her hearing.
Alongside Jake’s story is Claire’s. She’s (played by Evangeline Lilly) mother to a teen boy and she is also an addict in recovery. Her son turns up missing only to be found dead of an overdose. The police close the case, but she persists, thinking that this was more than an overdose. A private autopsy tells her that she was right. Her son was bashed in the head and had the drugs forced into his body. She launches her own investigation that leads her to the drugs. The same ones Jake is trying to buy.
While this going on, a new drug to rival the opioids on the market is introduced. There is a lot of fanfare as the last FDA trials begin. Yes, the drug is legal and more lethal than anything on the street. Just days before the drug is approved, scientist and professor Dr. Tyrone Bowers (Gary Oldman) discovers a problem. The drug, if taken at a higher dosage, is 10 times more addictive than Oxy that is getting patients hooked already. (This mirrors the actual Fentanyl problem that our country is currently fighting.) Dr. Bowers reports his findings and things go south from there. He loses everything for refusing to sign the papers needed to let the drug go to market.
Everyone keeps citing the “greater good” as a reason for supporting the release. But Dr. Bowers knows that the drug could not pass the protocol and needs to be retested. He also knows that people will die when the drug hits the market. None of this matters, however, as the doctor is ignored and silenced until he is out of options.
The three paths eventually cross as the drug that Tyrone fights to keep off the street is the same one that will eventually lead to more trouble like Jake and Claire are chasing. The problem is that this link between all of these stories is implied heavily but never really and solidly connected. Some people may mess with the implicit connections, making the film feel disjointed.
Otherwise, the two sides are obviously of the same coin and Crisis does an excellent job of showing how one Sedes agreed fed the other at the cost of the American people There is a very important message here. Too bad it is overshadowed by Hammer’s personal scandal.
Trigger Warning: Abuse survivors who are familiar with the Armie Hammer news stories may find a particular scene tough to watch. Jake’s sister checks herself out of rehab early to go to a crack house. It’s unsettling (knowing the allegations) to see Hammer pick up Depp’s small body, throw her down, and struggle to handcuff her. Later, She struggles again. This time in a bedroom after he takes the cuffs off. He wrestles her wriggling body to a bed, binds her wrists, and then her ankles with zip ties. If this description was tough to read, you may want to skip the two scenes in the film after he gets a call from the rehab. Some may want to skip the film altogether.
The talented ensemble cast gives a very entertaining performance in Crisis all while making a statement that truly needs to be made. If one can suspend belief, and separate actor from art (except for those two scenes), then Crisis is a must-watch. Others may call it a hard pass, regardless of the message. Both decisions are very fair. I am somewhere in the middle–urging you to see for yourself, but also giving that warning.
Crisis is available on VOD and many streaming services.
2.5 of 5
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