Review: 'Crisis' takes a muddled look at opioid addiction

Drama stars Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer, Evangeline Lilly and more

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

The crime thriller "Crisis" takes a multi-tiered approach to tackling the opioid epidemic, looking at the problem from the boardroom to the street corner, and several stops in between.  

What it can't do is distill those differing worlds into one cohesive, compelling narrative.

Gary Oldman in "Crisis."

The action is set in Detroit and Montreal, the latter of which is positioned like it's Windsor, not a good 600 miles away from the Motor City. (Characters are constantly hopping back and forth between the two cities by car, with no deference to the nine hour ride in between.) 

Armie Hammer plays Jake Kelly, a DEA agent looking to make a major bust on a Canadian opioid operation. (His sister, played by Lily-Rose Depp, is pretty deep in the throes of addiction.) The outfit he's looking to take down is tied to the recent overdose death of the son of Claire Reimann (Evangeline Lilly), who is in recovery from an oxycodone addition herself, and is now seeking revenge. 

Read: In 'Crisis,' characters turn to The Detroit News for help

Meanwhile, Dr. Tyrone Brower (Gary Oldman) is a university professor conducting trial experiments on a new "addiction-free" painkiller drug which, whoops, he learns is actually three times more addictive than Oxy. When he threatens to speak up, he gets thrown under the bus by those above him (including his boss, played by Greg Kinnear), showing the power of big pharma and what happens when you mess with the business of addiction. 

Like "Traffic," "Crisis" looks at the different ways our drug problem manifests itself and who it hurts along the way, but unlike "Traffic," "Crisis" often stalls narratively and can't find the wick to light to set its story ablaze. It's a noble effort, but like plans for a quick trip across the river to Montreal, "Crisis" never comes together.




Rated R: for drug content, violence, and language throughout

Running time: 118 minutes

In theaters, available On Demand March 5