I’ve seen and admired Nick Jarecki‘s Crisis (Quiver, 2.26), a skillfully wrought, multi-charactered, Traffic-like drama about the intrigues and ravages of the opioid epidemic. It began shooting roughly two years ago, and was ready to roll out by early ’20, or roughly a year ago.

I don’t know how it would have fared critically or commercially if the pandemic hadn’t hit, but I know two things. One, Crisis (originally called Dreamland) deserves everyone’s respect, and two, it doesn’t deserve to contend with so much as a single bad Armie Hammer joke.

As Jake Kelly, an undercover double agent dealking with users and sellers and basically in quicksand up to his neck, Hammer delivers a steady, no-frills performance. He doesn’t try to do anything the cute or charismatic way. Crisis is a complex ensemble piece, but at the same time as lean and trim as anyone could imagine, and trouper-wise Hammer fits right in. He holds back.

Not once during my viewing did I think about Hammer’s recent travails. Okay, I did think about them but mostly I was muttering “this is what good cinema does…it brings you in and shuts the world out….nice deal.”

I was also thinking that whatever Hammer might have gotten wrong in terms of excessive zeal or showing a lack of sensitivity or consideration for this or that B&D partner, his troubles are his own turf’s. No overlap, leave it alone.

The same consideration should, of course, be given to the other two Hammer films opening this year — Kenneth Branagh‘s Death on the Nile (20th Century, 9.17) and Taika Waititi Next Goal Wins, which will probably “open” during the ’21 and early ’22 award season.