I do love big action blockbusters as much as the next film fan, but I have to admit that I wish all blockbusters were like Crisis. This has everything that I want in a blockbuster – suspense, good acting and a script that has been well thought and plotted out by its screenwriters. It is also doesn’t need to have an explosion or a car chase in every scene to keep the interest going.
The well written script is the work of screenwriter/director Nicholas Jarecki (Arbitrage) who uses the backdrop of the opioid epidemic in the USA as a way for the stories of three characters living three very different lives to collide.
First there is Jake Kelly (Armie Hammer – The Lone Ranger) who is working undercover in a bid to bring down both one of the biggest importers and largest exporters of opioids coming across the US and Canadian border. While he is stepping along a very dangerous line he feels that he is now being rushed by his superior (Michelle Rodriguez – The Fast & The Furious) which may bring everything crashing down in the case.
Then there is Claire Reimann (Evangeline Lilly – Ant-Man) who is a recovering opioid addict who is just trying to get her life back on track when suddenly she leans that there is a possibility that her son’s disappearance may have something to do with the murky underworld of Detroit.
Last but certainly not least is Dr Tyrone Brower (Gary Oldman – The Dark Knight) a well-respected professor at a University that relies on grants and paid research work to keep going. When he and his students are asked to test a new addictive-free drug that a pharmaceutical company is planning on releasing they find it is not as addictive-free as the company believes. What happens when he confronts the company about his findings soon finds him under a threat that he could never have predicted.
The brilliance of Crisis all starts with the writing of Jarecki. I’ll admit that I became a fan of his after his amazing film Arbritage blew me away back in 2012. With that film Jarecki created an under-rated suspenseful thriller that brought out the best of its cast which included Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Brit Marling. With Crisis Jarecki recaptures that magic.
To say that Jarecki has created a slow-burn thriller with Crisis is an understatement. This isn’t a film fuelled by suspense through action, Jarecki and his cast can get just as much suspense out of scene with Kelly in a bar with a gangster or Brower sitting at a board-room meeting when his future is being determined then most director/screenwriters can get out massive robot fights or stunning car chases. As a director Jarecki also knows how to use his environment to his advantage and by teaming up with cinematographer Nicolas Bolduc (War Witch) he uses the snowscapes of Canada and Detroit to bring a harshness to the film that further enhances the bleakness told in the story.
Also like Arbritage is the fact that Jarecki’s screenplay here brings out the best in the film’s cast. For a long time I have seen Armie Hammer as a pretty-boy actor. While his looks lend him well to roles such as the ones he has had in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Lone Ranger his acting range has been lacking. Here though Hammer shines as a drug agent in over his head – finally it seems like he found an acting role where he could showcase his acting talent sadly at a time when his career maybe at the crossroads.
The screenplay here also sees Evangeline Lilly steps up as a distraught mother trying to overcome her past demons with an emotional performance that once again reminds us of her acting abilities outside franchises. Also brilliant here is Gary Oldman, but then when isn’t he brilliant? Here he uses his theatrical training to great effect and he is sensational in some of the film’s more suspenseful scenes.
I should also point out though that I did find a flaw with this film. It did feel like the film tried to bring in too many characters. Characters like Kelly’s drug addicted sister Emmie (Lily-Rose Depp – Yoga Hosers) seem superfluous and just make the film run a little longer than it really should.
All in all though Crisis is a must see thriller for cinema-goers out there that like a good slow-burn thriller. A beautifully written script lends its hand to some great acting performances with a film that reminds us that often the line between pharmaceutical companies and drug dealers is often blurry.