Film Review – Crisis

Could there have been better timing for a movie about the power of ‘Big Pharma’? You decide. Crisis is a film about the bad side of drug supply – whether it be illegal or (supposedly) legal.

Based around the USA’s continuing opioid epidemic, the movie runs three stories in parallel, two of which converge. The main characters for the three threads are:

Gary Oldman playing  university professor Dr. Tyrone Brower,
Evangeline Lilly as Claire Reimann an architect battling her own oxycodone addiction while searching for the truth about her son’s death.
Jake Kelly, an undercover DEA agent trying to bust a  cartel Fentanyl smuggling operation and played by Armie Hammer, .

Note: I didn’t know about Hammer’s real life antics until after watching the movie when I looked him up online, so I will just review the film and let you read about him separately (if you wish).

The Plot(s)

The illegal drug business…

Undercover agent Kelly is trying to arrange a big drug deal for illegal opioids across the Canadian border by making contact with the leader of the ring known only as ‘Mother’. Meanwhile Claire Reimann’s son turns up suspiciously dead and she starts her own investigations while trying to avoid falling back into her old drug habit.

She finds that her son’s death is related to one of his friends who was caught by police running drugs across the border for the Montreal based cartel. The youngster is subsequently killed in prison and it seems that Claire’s son was just a loose end.

She drives into Canada determined to find the man responsible and where she will cross paths with the undercover agent. The grieving vengeful mother and the DEA agent trying to catch ‘Mother’ in the act are on a collision course. I won’t spoil the ending to the convergence of these two plot lines but you may just see it coming before it happens.

The legal drug business…

Meanwhile a new opioid is undergoing lab-rat trials. Dr. Brower’s team at the university have  been testing a new drug for a major pharmaceutical company. They discover some nasty side effects of the drug and Brower brings this to the attention of the drug company’s contact (played by another British actor Luke Evans). It just so happens that the same pharma company funds much of the research at the college (as they do in real life of course). The new drug is supposed to be a ground-breaking “non-addictive” painkiller and the pharma company is keen to rush the drug to the market (and of course make a fortune!).

The pharma company applies pressure to the university and Dr. Brower’s job becomes threatened unless he hides the findings in his report. His name is dragged through the dirt when the university fabricates stories of sexual harassment. The drug company has close ties with the government (as they do) and despite Dr. Brower’s attempts to bring out the true findings of the research the new “non-addictive” opioid is approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Now why does that ring a bell with recent real life events? Hmm… Let me see…

Critique

Definitely a film that grabs your attention and pulls you deeper into its plot lines. This movie has obvious similarities with two things. One is the 2000 movie Traffic. It is hard to watch Crisis without comparing it to that excellent movie. The other is the Coronavirus farce that has been unfolding in real life. Was the timing of this movie deliberate? Releasing a movie showing the pharma industry as untrustworthy while our governments are trying to get us to trust them blindly with vaccines yet to be FDA approved. It is an odd one…

This movie definitely does not paint the FDA or Big Pharma in a good light. Probably rightly so. But it also exposes the huge opioid epidemic particularly in the USA where (I have read) more than 40,000 die of opioid addiction every year. The film ends with a sobering note flashed on screen: More Americans have died from opioid abuse in the last year than died in the Vietnam war.

There are some good acting performances but Oldman – who is usually excellent – was not at his best. He resorts to shouting too many of his lines almost trying to be like Al Pacino.

I give this movie 4 out of 5. Not as good as the excellent Traffic, but definitely worth watching.

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