- Last Updated: Thursday, 16 January 2020 15:21
- Written by Lupe Rodriguez Haas
First time feature film director Anthony Jerjen takes on the opioid crisis in INHERIT THE VIPER starring Josh Hartnett. While it is an interesting watch, the story ends before the crime thriller materializes.
INHERIT THE VIPER from Lionsgate opens in select theaters, on demand and digital on January 10, 2020. The Conley siblings in Appalachia are your local opioid dealers. The family business has been passed down from the previous generation. Kip (Hartnett), Josie, (Margarita Levieva), and Boots (Owen Teague) don't know how to do anything else or make enough to get by. When a few deaths occur as a direct consequence of their drug dealing, Kip whose about to become a father, wants to spare his younger brother Boots from becoming part of the crew. However, his sister is hell bent on keeping it going while Boots is too eager to make a fast buck.
Director Jerien makes quite the impression with a portrait of America that is largely being ignored. The setting of the story is a sad one. Characters are draped in a backdrop of dilapidated homes and haggard residents struggling in a dying industrial area. Written by another first timer, Andrew Crabtree, the filmmakers focus on the dealers more so than the addicted which we have not seen depicted in a movie. The addicts who play small roles are sympathetic victims of the system rather than just being junkies.
The filmmakers feature film debut is an admirable one with great performances by Hartnett and Levieva (“The Deuce,” Adventureland), but the crime thriller never comes to fruition. He builds up the intrigue and thrills with defining moments in the story but they all seem like one-offs. The movie ends before there is any significant confrontations. There's a lot of talk through the dialogue of where characters stand but they don't act on it until the very end when someone makes a decision to end the cycle.
We briefly encounter Chandler Riggs (“The Walking Dead,” “A Million Little Things”), Dash Mihok (The Day After Tomorrow, “Ray Donovan”) and Bruce Dern (Nebraska, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) in small but not significant roles.
If anything, what's worth watching is the story told through the cinematography of a Middle America that is slowly dying.