Review: Guilt and revenge limit the options for solving ‘Shooting Heroin’s’ opioid crisis


Urgency runs through the narrative veins of “Shooting Heroin,” an issue-centric drama on the opioid epidemic poisoning America’s working-class heartland. Fond of stories underlined with religious faith, writer-director Spencer T. Folmar proposes two possible antithetical solutions: peaceful tactics that appeal to guilt or vigilante revenge.

Former “Quantico” series regular Alan Powell spearheads a large talent roster playing war veteran and single father Adam. Seething turmoil — perpetually visible on the actor’s brooding face — clouds him since his sister died of an overdose, so he joins forces with a mother who lost a son to drugs (a naïve Sherilyn Fenn) and a bloodthirsty hunter. Their often-futile efforts, equally disdainful toward pushers and users, divide the small town into factions.

Powell, at his best in scenes opposite “Raging Bull’s” Cathy Moriarty, exhibits the chops of a straight-laced leading man, one emotionally equipped to maintain our attention amid an excess of undeveloped subplots.

Heavy-handed messaging that mimics a morally didactic PSA drowns the proficiently shot movie in long tirades more noticeable for their vociferousness than for actually delving into any revealing specifics. However, it never resorts to exploitative images in order to sear its point with gruesomeness, and that’s commendable.

Folmar’s evaluation of the problem doesn’t account for socioeconomic variables or addiction being a medical condition, but focuses on crucifying the dealers and reduces the problem to a personal decision that must be condemned. Only in its final twist does “Shooting Heroin” introduce ambivalence, showing Adam there’s no clear-cut distinction between those he sees as evildoers and their victims. Compassion lives in the gray area.

‘Shooting Heroin’

Rated: R, for drug content, and language throughout

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Playing: Available on VOD