Monday, February 11, 2013

Puncture

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!




Puncture – 4 out of 5

Puncture is based on a true story which, when you hear that phrase, should automatically scream that the film has taken major liberties with the actual story (like how Erin Brockovich didn’t focus on how Brockovich was just as evil as the people she battled—because she totally was) or the film is just plain bullshit—like every horror film that claims it is based on a true story. However, this is usually forgiven when the story is good and that let’s us allow Hollywood to blow smoke up our asses...essentially; the story is giving us the reach around.

With a last name like Danzinger a career in the legal system
should have been the last option to come upon.
Years after accidentally sticking herself with a contaminated needle, Nurse Vicky Rogers (Vinessa “My mother couldn’t spell Vanessa” Shaw) finds that she has AIDS and is hoping to get justice and let it be known that her accident could have been avoided. She turns to the young and hungry lawyer team of Mike Weiss (Chris Evans) and Paul Danzinger (who’s last name sounds like the combination of a certain heavy metal musician and tasty treat—and he’s played by Mark Kassen, by the way. Kassen also co-directed the film with Adam Kassen). The two men, in turn, turn to (there's a lot of turning here) Jeffrey Dancort who is currently producing a line of safety needles that could have prevented an accident like Rogers had but is being blocked by unfair market practices and outright illegal activities by needle monopolies.  And apparently, needle monopolies exist. 

"I also make umbrella hats!"

"This is a needle..."
"Yes, I know that."
Danzinger, a practical family man, is hesitant to take on Big Needle while Weiss is driven to win and driven to make a difference in this case (as well as turning, driving is a big thing here too). However, the two men are quick to find themselves in over their heads as their opponents have money and power on their side and Weiss is struggling with his own needle problem in his life thanks to his own issues with drugs. Things only get deeper when Weiss meets Red (Michael Biehn) who shows him that Big Needle goes farther than accidental pricks among the nursing community and is a forerunner in the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

Pictured:  Evil.
 

I first saw the trailer for this film without knowing it had some basis in reality and I thought the idea of Captain America playing a party animal/drug addicted but obsessively competitive and compassionate lawyer to be fodder for an interesting film. And it was pretty damn good.

"Where's my shield?  I'm going to kick some litigious ass!"


The story is just plain intriguing and easily engaging—which, of course, sounds like bullshit buzzwords pretentious critics like to throw into their reviews so it sounds smarter than just saying, “That was fucking awesome!” However, I really mean it when I say that the film was interesting to watch, compelling to see the inherit contradiction of a drug addict lawyer fighting over the morality of a heartless company that seemingly doesn’t care for the safety of the people who work with their products and the story was quick to suck you in and stay with it as the events unfold.

Here's an awful game to play while watching this:  Shoot up every time you see a needle.


The strongest dealing (a weak attempt at a drug-based pun there) this film injects into our viewer veins (there, that one was better) is The Human Torches’ performance. Chris Evans has come a long way from when I first saw him in Not Another Teen Movie and has shown in recent years that he’s more than just a cocky typecast performer and has the chops to be quite amazing—which he shows quite epically in this film. 

Suspenders also work very well for him.


However, the strong performances of the film don’t stop with Evans as he is surrounded by actors with more than capable talents. Most notably is Brett Cullen as the “evil” lawyer who is out to protect the interests of the company making the unsafe needles and Michael Biehn being the corporate whistle-blower—and later he becomes John Connor’s father…this man is all about creating a safe and healthy future. I also can’t forget to mention Marshall Bell (who will always be that panicky General in Starship Troopers to me) really delivering as the mentally exhausted and exasperated head of the safe needle company as he tries to insert his merchandise into an industry that seems like it wants to make sure their product is needlessly sticking nurses in the fingers.

"It was awful.  The one with Sam Worthington, I mean.  The future with killer robots was
tolerable compared to that one."


One other thing I enjoyed about the film is the restraint it showed when it dealt with Big Needle. It could have been very easy to demonize the industry and, if Michael Bay shot the film, to illustrate that the company is evil there probably would have been a sequence where Weiss discovers a secret file that showed a needle that was made entire of needles sticking out in all directions and all the needles came equipped with AIDS just to make sure all who handle it will die horribly but the film decided to show all the company’s dealing with their team of lawyers. Granted, Big Needle still looks horrible but they look horrible for realistic and real reasons and making them the villains didn’t come off as desperate and cartoonish—which, sadly, could have easily happened if they included the scene where Big Needle tied the nurse with AIDS to some train tracks before laughing maniacally and twisting their mustaches.

"Bwaa-haa-haa--oops, I'm sorry, that just slipped out."


Puncture tells a great story and is filled with powerful performances that stop short of being too preachy and annoying (basically, its drama is grounded) along with Evans really proving that he’s developing as an actor (and that he can rock a great beard). The movie isn’t your typical courtroom showdown that has become commonplace in movies and TV and that, in and of itself is a good thing. It doesn’t have the cheesy emotional closing statement or the last minute bit of evidence that ends up wining the case. Instead, the film plays off realistically…and that makes me wonder how much was really embellished and how much was spot on to the true story. 

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