Chris Evans channels a new kind of hero in the new indie-drama Puncture. The fantastic premise revolves around Evan’s character Mike Weiss, a highly-functioning drug addicted lawyer, and the 800,000 or so hospital workers who are accidentally pricked by medical syringes, a year. All of these things are based on reality, making this story hard to ignore. The film is directed by brothers Adam and Mark Kassen, and played at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. Evans was great as Captain America, but here’s a film carrying a great idea, that gives Evans the chance to play an antihero, and at the same time expose the corruption of the health care industry.

The Players:

  • Director: Adam Kassen, Mark Kassen
  • Writers: Paul Danzinger (story), Ela Thier (story), Chris Lopata (screenplay)
  • Starring: Chris Evans, Mark Kassen, Vinessa Shaw and Brett Cullen
  • Cinematography By: Helge Gerull
  • Original Music By: Ryan Ross Smith

The Plot:

Mike Weiss (Evans) is a talented young lawyer and a functioning drug addict. Paul Danziger (co-director Mark Kassen), his longtime friend and partner, is the strict and responsible of the two. Their personal-injury law firm is barely getting by, but things get interesting when they take on a case involving Vicky (Vinessa Shaw), a local ER nurse who is pricked by a contaminated needle on the job. Soon Weiss and Danziger are going up against health care and pharmaceutical heavyweights.

The Good:

  • Brett Cullen: Cullen plays Nathaniel Price, the chief health care attorney. He’s the guy going up against Weiss and Danziger, the underdogs. He’s a villainous character, but also very complex. The story doesn’t revolve around him, but we are still able to get a grasp his message. Price isn’t just the bad guy of this story. The writers have created a villain who plays a key role in Weiss’ life. Through him, we are able to get another side of the story. Also, Cullen steals every scene he’s in. He portrays his character with subdued intensity. He’s struggling to be okay with who he has become.
  • Chris Evans: Physically, Evans looks nothing like a cocaine and heroine addict, at least the ones we see in movies (ex: Christian Bale in The Fighter), but he moves like one. He talks like one. He breathes like one. It’s hard to see past his hard triceps and perfect abs and see him as a junkie, but once you do, you realize that he’s really giving a great performance. One of his best scenes is when he’s sitting in front of a very important woman, in government, and she hands him a Kleenex, telling him he’s got cocaine under his nose. At that moment, you’re looking at a guy with serious problems, who understands he’s got clean up, and not a guy who’s built like a Calvin Klein underwear model.
  • The Premise: As many as 800,000 hospital workers get accidentally pricked by medical syringes in a single year. 1,000 of those people contract a fatal decease like AIDS or Hepatitis. This is a great premise for a film. There’s also a great antihero behind this whole story. There’s strong material to revolve around an equally powerful story.

The Bad:

  • The Story is Too Complex: As great as this story may be, if it’s not told right, it’s not going to be powerful. That’s what happened to Puncture. The film never finds a focus. We just brush on these stories, but we never really dive deep into one. The film starts with Vicky, the ER nurse who gets pricked. Then we move into Weiss’ story and we discover that he’s a junkie-lawyer. Then we get around to the story about 1,000 hospital workers getting HIV or Hepatitis accidentally because they got pricked by needles on the job. The Kassen brothers tried to say it all, but failed. Maybe it is possible to successfully include so many stories into one film (ex: Crash), but that didn’t happen here.
  • Holes: Some things don’t make sense, and are just a waste of screen time. For example, Weiss gets followed around by a black car. We never know the purpose of that. There’s also Weiss wife who makes a grand entrance, and is never seen again. It would’ve been better to just keep these things out of the film. It’s okay to deviate from the truth. This is not a documentary.


Puncture has a great premise and some solid performances, but it lacks focus from the very beginning, and that’s very unfortunate. Also, the trailer makes this movie look a lot better, so beware.

Rating: 5/10

Puncture hits selected cities September 23, 2011.


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