• Nate Adams

Review: Star-studded thriller 'Crisis' offers minimal surprises


Courtesy of Quiver Distribution

Nicholas Jarecki’s thriller “Crisis,” a run-of-the-mill inspired by a true story clunker, has a lot going on and doesn’t say anything new about its primary topic: the opioid epidemic. Its sprawling, multi-layered approach is somewhat messy and considering the recent social media scandal top-billed star Armie Hammer has become entangled with, Quiver Distribution is in the unenviable position of releasing a film with major baggage. Still, if Hammer wasn’t on the poster, Jarecki’s crusade against the drug industry is dead on arrival. Other major players Gary Oldman, Evangeline Lilly, Kid Cudi, and Greg Kinnear try to find the momentum (and occasionally they do) but “Crisis” offers minimal surprises.


In the first of three woefully underdeveloped plots, Hammer plays undercover DEA agent Jake Kelly – stationed in Detroit - who’s spent the last year earning street cred within the Armenian drug circle. His grand scheme is to connect them with a Canadian kingpin and dismantle both titans in the process. When not busting bad guys or hunting petty criminals, Jake can be seen looking after his heroin addicted sister. It wouldn’t feel so cheap if not for how scarcely this subplot is tossed in.


Meanwhile, recovering addict Claire Reimann (Lilly) is finding ways to cope with the past through twelve-step programs. But when her son ends up missing and is found killed, her motives shift. Police claim the cause of death is an overdose, but Claire knew her son wasn’t a user and when shown the door because Detroit Police can’t allocate resources, she launches an investigation that leads down a dark conspiracy riddle rabbit hole eventually working up the food chain until answers are given.


Finally, the third semi-but-not-really-connected narrative revolves around the discovery of a non-addictive painkiller days away from FDA approval. Everyone in the pharma company believes the drug has potential, but studies conducted by Dr. Tyrone Brower (Oldman) says otherwise. Brower faces an uphill battle and his story represents the typical “David vs Goliath” narrative where hokey dialogue is used in screaming matches (“This is going to kill people!”) and confirms what we already knew: drugs are bad and companies will hush anyone who backs their claims with scientific evidence. The only thing missing is the obligatory: “THEY KNEW!”


You’ve seen it before and the performers are fine, but the plots never add up nor shock the viewer with any revelation guaranteed to change perspectives. Oldman, Hammer, and Lily are burdened with carrying one dimensional characters who act and behave in a manner that’s more flashy than realistic. Jarecki deserves credit for earnestly jamming three convoluted plots into a tidy two-hour window, but each is left clawing for screen-time that doesn’t exist.


Grade: C-


CRISIS will be released on February 26th in theaters nationwide and on home entertainment on March 5th.