Film Review: ‘Crisis’ (2021)

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Stars: Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer, Evangeline Lilly
Director: Nicholas Jarecki
Distributor: Quiver Distribution

“A crime for telling the truth?!”

A serious film about drugs, Crisis is a spectacle of intensity and moral values told through three storylines led individually by its three stars: Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer, and Evangeline Lilly. From writer-director Nicholas Jarecki, Crisis is a film in which the relevance that it entails is greatly escalated as a result of the current global pandemic, but away from that, this film exists as a daring crime-thriller also.

Opening in the snowy woodland of Canada, after a young drug mule is picked up, Armie Hammer executes a powerhouse performance as DEA Agent Jake Kelly whose work is undercover with Armenian gangsters, setting up deals with a Canadian cartel. Whilst his superior, Supervisor Garrett (Michelle Rodriguez), pushes for busts sooner than realistically possible, the risks and dangers taken by Agent Kelly exceed his initial anticipation, but with a drug-addicted-sister, his pursuit of cleaning the streets of Opioid drugs is greater than his superiors can comprehend. 

Evangeline Lilly’s Claire Reimann is probably the biggest casualty of Crisis. A recovered addict herself, the heartbreak of her son’s disappearance and drug-related death, influences her to establish and embark on a vigilante mission to an extent. With the law enforcement unwilling to help in her pursuit of the truth and justice, Claire takes matters into her own hands. Lilly’s Claire represents the mothers and family members whose lives have been struck by drug-related tragedy, which despite being out of their control, they still feel the guilt and responsibility of an individual’s death. 

Now, toted as Crisis’ leading star, the storyline which is navigated by Oscar-winner Gary Oldman, lacks a definitive connection to the two preceding pathways. Arguably, the story led by Dr Tyrone Brower (Oldman), a university professor, is the most integral and important story of Crisis. Not only a professor, Dr Brower has developed and trialled a new non-addictive painkiller for Big Pharma set to go into distribution…yet his latest test results find that the drug isn’t exactly what it’s made out to be. Pressured by both his colleague (played by Greg Kinnear) and the pharmaceutical company to proceed regardless, Dr Brower has to tend to an already-damaged moral compass, risking lives over money and power. 

Between the three intertwining storylines, it is clear that evil exists in either side of drugs – be it in legal or illegal distribution. An issue, however, with the three storylines is that two of them (Agent Kelly and Claire) gradually connect, albeit an hour in, but that leaves one in its own disconnected existence, thus ultimately establishing Crisis as a crime-thriller with a bonus commentary on Big Pharma. Whilst collectively, Crisis is a mixed bag, when individually observing the three storylines, they can each be read as exciting, yet sugar-free versions of greater films. Whilst the action witnessed and executed by Armie Hammer is great, there are superior examples of undercover cop scenarios, and whilst Gary Oldman’s situation is intriguing, there feels like a missed potential to match the likes of The Insider. But this is to be expected when a story of corruption, witness intimidation etc etc, is diminished to only a third of a film. And though whilst Evangeline Lilly isn’t quite Charles Bronson in Death Wish, she doesn’t need to be. 

Essentially, there are potentially three good films here grossly condensed into one overall two-hour film, hence infrequencies in overall tone and structure. As a viewer, one of the biggest issues is becoming too attached to one of the storylines, only to become substantially disappointed and disjointed when shifting between the other two before returning to the preference. Of course, this all comes down to how one reads a film.

Based on a true story, Nicholas Jarecki’s Crisis is a good attempt in exploring and presenting the real and continuous dangers of Opioid in both society and corporate America. As a director, he is fantastic at exploring the bleak reality of it all. The film’s message is simple: money talks and not enough is being done. From budget crunching Agent Kelly’s undercover eradication of drug smuggling, to a hush money cheque and lab financing causing a dilemma in morale, for whatever is good or bad in the world, it simply revolves around the power of money.

In the US, Crisis is out now in select theatres, and will be available on digital and VOD from 5th March. Many thanks to both DDA and Quiver Distribution for the pleasure of this film.

3 Stars


For John.

This article’s featured image: By Source, Quiver Distribution, Fair Use 

2 thoughts on “Film Review: ‘Crisis’ (2021)

Add yours

  1. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t great either. Cool to read in your blurb you do stuff on female representation. Do you ever list to “Ladies Guide to Dude Cinema” podcast? It’s great!


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