2021, R, 118 min. Directed by Nicholas Jarecki. Starring Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer, Guy Nadon, Evangeline Lilly, Lily-Rose Depp, Greg Kinnear, Luke Evans.

REVIEWED By Shane Pfender, Fri., March 12, 2021

DEA agents and helicopters surround a young man running thousands of fentanyl pills from Canada across the unmanned border of Northern Vermont. A mother (Lilly) searches frantically for her missing son, finding him on the cold metal bed of a morgue. A Federal agent (Hammer) coordinates a million dollar opiate purchase with Canadian and Armenian drug lords. A scientist (Oldman) finds himself in a moral dilemma as a pharmaceutical company pressures him to publish falsified lab documents about a new "miracle" drug.

Crisis is a highly polished ensemble action film inspired by the current opioid epidemic, and tries to explore it at all levels. Yet audiences may have trouble associating the events with any lived experience of the pain and loss associated with opiate addiction. Beautiful actors, though troubled by the murder and addiction that surrounds them, fight the current opiate crisis valiantly and heavily armed. The film’s narrative and characters reason that any difficult situation can be solved with blind brute force and a pistol. If you’re looking for a cutting critique of the American addiction industry, look elsewhere.

In lieu of cultural critique, writer and director Nicholas Jarecki pushes his characters to the absolute heights of their respective internal dilemma. Each character seems less to represent the will of a human being and instead exist as an embodiment of a greater system. Kid Cudi shows up for a scene; his character appears to represent the entirety of the FDA. Meanwhile Hammer's fed can bend the entire DEA and whole drug cartels to his will. As grieving mother Claire Reimann, Lilly stands for the entire civilian population, fed up with these industries that leave America’s families dead in their wake. Jarecki arranges his actors more like gods at war than people in pain.

The film is redeemed in glimpses; Lily-Rose Depp gives an impactful, though too brief performance as the film’s addict, while Guy Nadon is a charismatic presence as an old Quebecois drug dealer. These two actors focus on idiosyncrasy in expression, and reflect their characters’ own personal desires. Alternatively, Oldman’s singular acting style is pushed to encompass a massive spectrum of feeling rather than narrow in on one refraction of a large problem. The film requires its stars to lose their individuality. At least Hammer succeeds in the language of the film, in that he forgoes all personality to exist as a more pure expression of punishing, blind violence.

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Crisis, Nicholas Jarecki, Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer, Guy Nadon, Evangeline Lilly, Lily-Rose Depp, Greg Kinnear, Luke Evans

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