In almost every movie we’ve seen him in, Gary Oldman stays to true to his surname by not looking like a young man.
Whether as a police commissioner in the Batman trilogy or as Winston Churchill in the award-winning film “Darkest Hour”, he has the kind of moxie which reminds us that youth is too often wasted on the young.
In the thriller “Crisis,” we are presented with something less than a Gary Oldman staple as the movie navigates the full sweep of a deadly opioid epidemic.
As we are carried along by the tide of the story, we get the inside track on a drug trade through the experiences of a spectrum of its stakeholders and victims as well as those protecting one from the other.
“Crisis” aspires to its dictionary definition: a time of intense difficulty or danger. But falls short at every turn, like a street corner manned by midget drug pushers.
We never really feel the deadly urgency of “a public health crisis” which this movie is centered upon.
Also, the movie’s somewhat preachy tone stilts the dialogue with a holier-than-thou attempt to separate light from shadow.
The story revolves around three basic plotlines, which tediously grow into predictable subplots to ensure that “good” triumphs over all.
Besides Oldman, the cast of characters are led by a secret agent Jake (Armie Hammer). He is a Drug Enforcement Administration officer working undercover to ensnare Armenian drug lords who seem to relish conversation over crime.
Jake’s plan is to shut down the Armenian drug operations and also save his junkie sister (Lily-Rose Depp, no relation to Johnny), who is strung out on “Oxy”.
Oxy is short for oxycodone, a synthetic analgesic drug that is similar to morphine in its effects.
Behind door number two, we have Claire (Evangeline Lilly). She’s a winning architect who lost a lot from a drug addiction.
A loving mother, she hunts down the killers of her only child: a 16 year old kid called David (Billy Bryk).
Behind door number three, Gary Oldman plays Dr. Tyrone Brower. He’s a college professor who wrestles with his conscience and a big-bellied pharmaceutical company over a drug his department is paid to test.
Through tests, he finds the drug is fatal. But, uh oh, the pharmaceutical executives want it on the market anyway!
Ben Walker (Kid Cudi) shows up as a hapless Food and Drug Administration agent to help Dr. Brower tilt against the windmills of big business, and all the forces it releases to silence “the truth”.
So, we are talking a corrupt healthcare industry; a compromised world of academics; drug lords with code-names like “Mother,” and evil Armenians who should stick to dangling puppies from the top of a cliff while saying “who’s your daddy?”
Okay, that’s not a line in the movie. But with a villain called Mother, “Crisis” ends up with the maternal instincts of an abortion.
As an actor, Gary Oldman has saved Batman and England. But he failed to save a movie whose only crisis came from its being made.