Review: Nicholas Jarecki’s Opioid Thriller CRISIS Starring Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer & Evangeline Lilly Provokes & Engages

4 out of 5 stars

Writer/director Nicholas Jarecki’s Crisis is a punchy thriller, which offers audiences a thought-provoking piece of grown-up cinema. Jarecki uses the every real opioid crisis as the basis for three interwoven stories which focus on different ways in which the epidemic can impact people’s lives. It’s a beautifully composed film, with a top their cast led by Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer and Evangeline Lilly

Oldman takes on the role of a respected University professor who ends up fighting for his career and his reputation when he discovers that an apparent miracle drug isn’t as non-additive as its makers hope. Hammer plays an undercover federal agent attempting to crack a Fentanyl smuggling operation between Canada and the U.S., while Lilly’s character is a recovering oxycodone addict looking for answers after her son overdoses.  

Nicholas Jarecki is quietly becoming one of the new protectors of great cinema, an heir to the type of classy thrillers once made by the likes of Sydney Pollack, Alan J. Pakula and Sidney Lumet. It’s rare for this type of thriller to get made these days and the director has ensured that it’s well worth your time. Jarecki’s great 2012 film, Arbitrage saw a career best turn from Richard Gere and Crisis is yet another textured thriller which sees its stars giving stand-out performances. Oldman, Hammer and Lilly all get the opportunity to deliver good work and their respective plots feel fully-rounded and never compromised to meet a running time. All three stories hold the attention, something which is often a rarity when using this type of multi-strand narrative technique. 

The opioid crisis is impacting people across the world and in all walks of life. It’s a very real problem and Crisis shows that it can affect people’s lives no-matter how successful they are, or how loved they might be. It’s a powerful message handled we’ll by the writer-director – but one which doesn’t come across as a sermon wrapped-up as entertainment. Crisis the perfect marriage between message and movie. 

It may be dealing with a hefty subject matter, but Jarecki and his cinematographer, Nicolas Bolduc have crafted a beautiful looking film. Crisis makes wonderful use of some brilliant snowy Canadian countryside and also blistering cold looking cityscapes. This looks like a movie – not like television or a live-action cartoon.

Crisis is a film with a thoughtful message delivered in a hugely engaging way. It’s a well written and very well acted thriller that manages to provoke and engage. Movies like this are a rarity in these times and Crisis deserves to be seen by a wide audience. Do yourself a favour and seek it out.