Part two, “What’s in it for me?” almost plays like a cover of the first episode, given that corporate greed tactics don’t change, as much as they’re picked up by different soul suckers. It focuses on the legacy of Insys, another company that has pushed its game in the opioid integration business, led by entrepreneur John Kapoor. Here, too, Gibney penetrates deep into the machinery of this business, including the salespeople who were very good at their jobs and then faced too rare a calculation. Former Kapoor vice president of sales Alec Burlakoff shares his experience of scrambling for the company, pushing the drug onto doctors. The same goes for one of his best signings, Area Manager Sunshine Lee, a hard worker who fell into the trap of what Insys had promised, but who also had his own responsibility in such a loose game. They’ve sold their souls to this increasingly corrupt cause, and their time in front of the camera, revealing how Insys lied to insurance companies so clients could receive deadly opioids like fentanyl, is playing out as an attempt. to get it back.
Telling so much history, recalling all those deals and all that criminal activity gives some of “The Crime of the Century” a slow feeling of “so it happened, then it happened”. But Gibney is trying to combat that by mixing scenes with the present from the frontlines of the opioid crisis, whether it’s with a paramedic in a community heavily affected by the outbreak, or a DEA agent trying to give an injection. on a reseller. There are also testimonials from addicted Americans, with their own extreme stories of how the product got so unregulated (like Gary and his prescribed 50 pills a day). These stories add more of a human, often heroic side, and yet they also help make the documentary emotionally unfocused. “Crime of the Century” doesn’t quite pull off a graceful act of juggling between educating how the system was broken, showing how lives are completely destroyed by these pills, and then considering those who have tried to make a difference.
It’s one of Gibney’s most explosive documentaries, but he also has to be one of his most zealous in the way everything is presented. Indeed, no ominous drone shots of the Purdue Pharma building are spared (although the latter is a good kick), and the same goes for close-ups of pills with CO stamped on them. And whenever Gibney can cast a recognizable song to lead a streak, he goes, like when footage of opioid crime is accompanied by John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”; Eventually, some of the musical footage matches the cheesy corporate rap videos that Gibney uses for mortifying comedic relief, which includes the rap opiate. But seriously: while the documentary has so much to share, it lacks the touching character or poetry that helps these informed calls to attention really resonate. (Gibney’s recent HBO document, “Agent of Chaos,” nailed that when it came to tracking Russian interference in the U.S. election.) Instead, it becomes a pretty cold affair, even if its story embodies very human flaws: some people will do anything for more power and money, countless others will do anything to feel better, especially in the cycle of drug addiction. “The Crime of the Century” sheds light on this horrible dichotomy by giving viewers all the evidence it has. Perhaps with all of this information available now, other filmmakers and journalists will be able to tell similar stories that are a little more focused, but just as necessary.
The first part airs on HBO on May 10; the second part airs the following night.