Friday, March 5, 2021

Movie with Abe: Crisis

Directed by Nicholas Jarecki
Released February 26, 2021

The opioid crisis is something that has greatly affected the United States over the past few years, categorized as a public health emergency and leading to many unfortunate consequences for those who become addicted when trying to treat existing problems. As with many issues of this kind, it disproportionately impacts minority and poor communities, and it often feels like the only time people are paying attention is when the news is about someone who doesn’t look like a “typical” victim. This film tries to shine a spotlight but flails in its construction of a tepid, overblown thriller.

Jake Kelly (Armie Hammer) works undercover in a cross-border drug smuggling ring, traveling to Montreal to establish a relationship with the notorious kingpin called Mother. Dr. Tyrone Brower (Gary Oldman) works as a university professor, a job that is put at risk when he discovers in his research for a pharmaceutical company that their product may indeed be addictive and destructive despite their claims to the contrary. Claire Reimann (Evangeline Lilly) is distraught at the disappearance of her son, and when she learns that he died of an opioid overdose, she sets out to find the people responsible for getting him involved in the drug trade in the first place.

This film is designed in the style of “Traffic,” beginning with three separate narratives all touching on different offshoots of similar themes. While Jake’s sister (Lily-Rose Depp) is shown suffering from severe addiction, most of the film is merely about the operations that exist that continue to aid and ensure the free flow of substances with the potential to do enormous damage. Those aspects are less compelling and worthwhile, especially as presented here in a thinly-written script that finds characters cursing at each other more than anything else and spouting self-important speeches instead of truly coherent dialogue.

It’s a shame that this film doesn’t make better use of its cast, which is led by two actors who are talented despite recent social media issues that have earned them negative press. Oldman’s performance here is able but doesn’t compare to his award-nominated turn last year in “Mank,” and among the rest of the wasted ensemble are Greg Kinnear, Kid Cudi, Indira Varma, Michael Aronov, and Martin Donovan. Michelle Rodriguez is particularly miscast as a supervisory agent with no productive purpose in the film’s narrative. This may be a way to get the moviegoing public to start looking into and thinking about the opioid crisis, but it’s far from a good film.


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