Updated: Aug 5, 2021
Actor Gary Oldman snuck up to number one with the video on demand charts in March, but not from Mank, the movie that recently earned him another Oscar nomination. Instead, Oldman leads with the movie Crisis, writer-director Nicholas Jarecki’s look at the opioid dilemma.
Opening with dramatic helicopter footage over snowy Canadian terrain, the film covers three aspects of the pill trade as it crosses borders into the United States.
The helicopter chase brings Armie Hammer to the scene as an undercover agent out to break a major drug ring. The chase also connects with Evangeline Lilly as a mother whose son dies under questionable circumstances. While these two people fight drugs on the streets, Oldman’s character works behind the scenes as a university scientist who wants to find a safe alternative to opioids.
Oldman’s section never dovetails together as neatly as the others, but provides valid insights about underlying forces in the drug crisis. And of course, any excuse to let Oldman perform enhances a project. As usual, the actor transforms himself, this time as a character facing a personal crisis when research puts his career and lifestyle at risk.
Other cast members provide effective work, with Lilly particularly good in grief-stricken moments. The rest of the standout cast includes Greg Kinnear, Lily Rose-Depp, Luke Evans, and Michelle Rodriguez from The Fast and the Furious franchise.
Director Jarecki guides his actors well and proves capable with the visuals of his story, gleaning extra atmosphere from winter weather in a cold and bleak-looking setting that reflects the topic’s grimness. However, as the writer, Jarecki’s story stumbles from elements that sometimes feel familiar and tie up too tidily.
Nonetheless, the story remains topical and compelling enough to hold attention, aided by its strong cast and the ever-intense Gary Oldman. Crisis, which had a brief theatrical run, is now available on various streaming services - including Amazon.
Robin Holabird is KUNR's entertainment reviewer, author and former film commissioner for the Nevada Film Office.