Somewhat in the shadow of COVID-19, the global opioid crisis continues to take a deadly toll on the lives of millions and their frustrated, devasted loved ones. Ironically, many users resort to “shots in the arm” of a wholly different nature to “survive” the pandemic.
Writer-director Nicholas Jarecki’s multilayered-storied film tries to add further warning bells to the pains and perils of such drugs as fentanyl. The notion is laudable, but the result leaves much to be desired.
Set largely in Montreal (with side trips to Detroit), the narrative attempts to explore drug users, law enforcement (U.S. and Canada), and university research (this time into a revolutionary, fictional painkiller, looking for FDA approval and untold riches for a greedy corporation—no fiction there!), whose side effects wait till just beyond its seventh day before the unfortunate mice start dropping dead.
The fine cast is led by Gard Oldman (who is also an executive producer), playing the ever-heroic, third-party research leader (is it dangerous or not?), Dr. Tyrone Brower. It’s a gritty performance (notably his comeuppances for daring to submit negative, accurate findings to the FDA), but is marred by dialogue and situations (a long-forgotten, never prosecuted sexual harassment charge…) that weaken his character’s resolve and standing.
Leading the DEA’s undercover team is Armie Hammer (cross-reference below) who too effortlessly infiltrates the bad guys’ Canadian lair (ably lead by Mother—Guy Nadon very much at home in the part). Thanks goodness for the late-inning bullet-proof vest (would all of the seasoned thugs fail to realize he was “wearing”?). The needed tension between twin connivers never passes the smell test.
Grieving the sudden loss of the love-of-her-life-son David, recovering addict, Claire (Evangeline Lily) turns in a readily believable performance, if only her appearances—sporting a revenge revolver—had not been so predictable…
Trying to weave these disparate narratives into a convincing whole, Jarecki misses more than he hits. I was able to predict the next dead body or reaction to pressure minutes before they became “real”.
Neither opioids nor COVID-19 are going to go away anytime soon. Crisis confirms that prediction without offering any vision of hope. But, perhaps, that was the point. JWR