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Review: The Oxy Kingpins (2021)

The Oxy Kingpins Review


Documentaries are essential to the world. Specially when its subject is as relevant as to alert audiences of some issues that they never have time to think about in their daily busy lives. The Oxy Kingpins competing in the SXSW Film Festival this year is one of those cases, where an issue is addressed with plain facts and never loses sight of its main goal. As the titles suggests, The Oxy Kingpins is the work of Brendan Fitzgerald exposing the conspiracy that lurks around the biggest US pharmaceutical companies that are allowing and profiting from the current opioid epidemic that is gradually killing thousand of citizens every year. Interviewing some street distributors of oxycotin that spent time in prison for their role in this big scheme allows the viewer to be up and close with the dangers of trying to get information of this tight-lipped network of criminal activity, making the film engaging and informative. The narrative is straightforward, which reveals a pressing urge to deal with this problem quickly and efficiently.

The Oxy Kingpins Review

Fitzgerald’s motives are clear and by circling around the team of lawyers that is trying to bring the real culprits accountable for their actions provides a sense of urgency that the audience can easily relate to. One of the biggest assets of this documentary exercise is that it stays simples in its structure and avoids big courtroom drama and dense terminology around its theme, adressing the public with only the necessary information for it to understand that this is a matter that has long been treated lightly and nothing was done in the meantime to bring these millionnaire CEOs to face justice for their greed.

The urgency, in which the straightforwardness of the film relies on, makes it a thrilling ride and an experience that will shake the audience and will make people talk about this issue. The brave act of exposing the indecent behavior of these companies and informing the public of the numbers of victims they leave behind in their trail, is surely one that deserves recognition. The Oxy Kingpins is that type of documentary that could easily stay in the shadow of large productions made about the pharmaceutical drug theme, like Netflix‘s The Pharmacist or How to Fix a Drug Scandal, but unlike these examples, it has a voice of its own and the fact that it doesn’t allow itself to drift away from its main goal to inform and alert the audience with raw data, ultimately makes it more compelling and conscious about the problem it’s portraying.

Fitzgerald’s sense of delivering more than garnishing the information with unnecessary points of view indicates that he wants to make clear that this isn’t a film that was created out of a personal vendetta or ulterior motive, but an exposure of the many entitled companies that use power to hide their footprint under the premise of providing drugs to those who supposedly need them. The fact that The Oxy Kingpins is a work made with accurate facts and a straightforward delivery of them, reveals the power of documentary as a genre and why it is so essential to nourish its existence. The result is a small but deep cutting piece of visual informative intervention that allows the audience to have full scope on how pharmaceutical corporatism operates and is constantly reminding of the many who lost their lives or were used as pawns in a larger scheme to fill the pockets of greedy businessmen.

The Oxy Kingpins Review

By making sure nothing stays behind in its approach, The Oxy Kingpins shows how urgent it is that these stories come to light and stir up the country to make a stand and take action over it. Intervention cinema is as crucial now as it will be for years and years to come and without films like The Oxy Kingpins we wouldn’t have access to stories that are so urgent to be seen and heard. Sometimes all it takes is a step of courage and make something simple but effective, rather than trying to be presumptuous and fill it with discarding information. Brendan Fitzgerald is a name that will be making some noise in the near future and the hopes of his documentary reaching the status it deserves will be a step further in fighting greed and abuse of power.

CineAddiction will have film festival reviews written in English to respect and endorse the festival norms. The Portuguese version will arrive later and will be featured in our social media. 

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Title: The Oxy Kingpins

Original Title: The Oxy Kingpins

Director: Brendan Fitzgerald

Runtime: 81 min.

Trailer | The Oxy Kingpins