Katie Hogan takes a look at Crisis which looks at the opioid epidemic and its knock-on effect in different people’s lives
Intersecting stories used to be the narrative tool in the early 2000s to try and tell as many varied individual stories as possible. Crisis focuses in on a very specific addiction for most of the film, the opioid epidemic and its knock-on effect in different people’s lives. With facts and numbers appearing just before the credits, this is crime thriller rather than a film that wants to discuss hard hitting issues.
A DEA Agent, currently undercover as a drug trafficker, tries to bring down a multi-cartel Fentanyl smuggling operation while also trying to look out for his junkie sister. An architect and single mother recovering from oxycodone addiction turns detective after her son is brutally and suddenly killed. A university professor and scientist debates what he should do when disturbing truths come to light that the pharmaceutical company he works for want to release new “non-addictive” painkiller to market despite what testing has shown.
The opening sequence of a lone skier in the wilderness, dressed in camouflage, at first feels like the film is going to be about survival, especially when the authorities start chasing them across the snowy plains. But the moment the drugs spills out on the ground, the constraining feeling that this is going to be about a very different type of crisis sinks in and whether you’re a fan of this type of crime drama, you already know what beats the story will hit.
Immediately the film feels as if there are two very different films taking place. Gary Oldman’s professor and scientist with a moral dilemma is played out as a ‘David and Goliath’ story with little to no hope of having a good and happy outcome. After discovering from trials of a new drug, meant to be less addictive than other painkillers, is in fact even more deadly than oxycodone, he has to decide whether to become a whistle-blower. Having seen this genre play out many times over film and TV, you can already guess how this will end. Especially as it is painfully obvious from the start, the pharmaceutical company is the real evil here. For a more intriguing and unpredictable part of the film, are the colliding stories between the DEA, drug traffickers and the avenging mother. At least in these stories, there actually feels like a plotline rather than one decision outcome. With Evangeline Lilly as the single mother, grief stricken with anger at her son’s death, her detective skills keep you involved with where the film takes you, along with Armie Hammer as the DEA agent on a mission.
As a crime thriller, there are twists and turns with highly emotional moments of pain and questioning what is right and wrong. A great ensemble cast covering the lows of drug addiction and the pharmaceutical companies being the ultimate ‘bad guy’ for creating the addictive substance to begin with, doesn’t feel fresh or new, but thankfully with interesting character arcs, the film scrapes by being full labelled as an ‘issue’ film.
Crisis will be released later in the year in the UK.