By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
The time has come for another review-in-reverse, my first since Tangled… holy shit, a year ago. I’d say time flies, but it’s more like it slips you a roofie, and leaves you with throbbing extremities and a bunch of vague, chronologically suspect memories of what happened before you blanked out. Or perhaps I just drink too much…
So… Puncture. Chris Evans stars as a lawyer who also happens to be a sleazy, whore-mongering drug addict. His firm is on its last legs and his friendship with his straighter-edged law partner is deteriorating. A chance at redemption presents itself with a case that no one will touch: a nurse who contracted AIDS through an accidental needle stick sues not for damages, but to have hospitals change over to a new needle that would eliminate this hazard.
The situation proves stickier (okay, maybe I’m drunk right now. Ha!) than he imagines, as he has to face off against a massive medical supply lobby that will stop at nothing to ensure their profits.
To the very idea of casting Chris Evans in this role. It’s not that he does a bad job- far from it. It’s likely the best performance of his career. Still, as soon as he bares those Captain America abs, you can never quite get back to the place where his performance as a strung-out junkie whose life is unraveling around him feels at all realistic. Chalk it up to the Hollywood/Showtime theory of casting.
Eh, close enough.
The story as it begins to play out couldn’t have been handled more conventionally. First off, we get a nice dose of Evan’s courtroom mavericking, which, if The Good Wife has taught me anything, could be handily defeated by a parrot whose vocabulary consists solely of “objection.”
Lesson 2: Computers are magic, and all teenagers are sorcerers
From there, the story follows the well-beaten path of man vs. evil corporation, spotted with dialogue like “sometimes the brightest light comes from the darkest places,” which I couldn’t decided was cliché, or cliché like a fox!
And then, just in time for the third act, the writing got really, really good. Chris Cooper, who played Sellout Corporate Lawyer # 1, certainly helped with his chilling delivery, but anybody can work with gems like, “Now, I bet that you’ve spent your whole life believing that you can do something great, make a difference, be something special. That’s the most ordinary thought anybody’s ever had.”
The final thing that sealed my recommendation (besides some interesting shooting angles and a pretty good indie soundtrack) was the ending, which took some hundredweight balls to go ahead with. Sure, it’s what actually happened, butHollywooddoesn’t usually have much problem changing a true story to hit the normal crowd-pleasing targets. I can’t give enough credit to a film that bucks that model.
Puncture tells a unique story in a fairly conventional way. Stick around, though- it gets better.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Evans abuses a substance (only a half if it’s alcohol)
Take a Drink: whenever Evans fucks something up
Drink a Shot: when Cooper and Evans cross swords