The scourge of opioid addiction is at the core of the dramatic thriller Crisis.
A tension-filled opening sees a teenager, Cedric Beauville (Charles Champagne), in deep snow near the US-Canadian border being chased by unseen pursuers. The lad’s capture sets off a chain of events.
Jake Kelly (Armie Hammer) is deep undercover. The Drug Enforcement Administration agent has infiltrated a notorious gang of drug traffickers, but bringing down the king pin, named “Mother” (Guy Nadon) is proving difficult. Kelly has skin in the game on the personal front, as his sister, Emmie (Lily-Rose Depp), is a serious addict who rehab hasn’t managed to help.
Single mother Claire Reimann (Evangeline Lilly) is a recovered addict with a sports’ loving 16-year-old son, David (Billy Bryk). One day, after practice, he doesn’t return home and she finds out his disappearance is linked to the insidious drug trade.
Dr Tyrone Brower (Gary Oldman) is a university lecturer whose research funding is greatly aided by a large pharmaceutical company. That firm is on the cusp of a major medical breakthrough, which is said to be far more effective in treating addiction that what is currently on the market. As a result, the large pharma is set to earn a fortune. All that stands in the way is Food and Drug Administration approval. But Dr Brower’s researchers, who have been testing the new drug on mice, have discovered a serious flaw – one that could kill those it is looking to help. Nevertheless, the university is urging him to say nothing.
I was sold on the first two thirds of Crisis. But although some threads came together, I felt the plot unravelled towards the end. Most concerning to me was what I saw as the increasingly preposterous idea of an ordinary person being able to do what many trained law enforcement officers couldn’t. And that person was being aided by a private detective (Jason Cavalier) who provided information only he appeared to be privy to. Really?
That comes down to a script with holes in it. The writer and director of the piece is Nicholas Jarecki (Arbitrage).
The writing doesn’t detract from the performances of the leads. As Jake Kelly, Armie Hammer is seemingly permanently on edge, as I dare say a person in his position would be, playing both sides in a high stakes cat-and-mouse game. Gary Oldman makes a plausible academic whose conscience is gnawing away at him. Evangeline Lilly plays a woman with two sides to her character.
I appreciated the cinematography by Nicolas Bolduc (La Belle Époque). The aerial shots were particularly compelling.
So, while Crisis is not without merit, it lacks the authenticity and quality of a film that is best of breed in this genre (think Traffic).
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Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.