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2011 | 99 min | R | 2.39:1



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Theatrical release date

 23 September, 2011

Country of origin

 United States



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Screenshots from Puncture Blu-ray

Puncture Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, December 1, 2011

After years playing superheroes and cads, “Puncture” brings actor Chris Evans to the realm of the prestige production. It’s a noble cause for the performer, who’s flirted with dramatics before in messy features (“The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond”), but it’s another effort wasted on a terribly clichéd picture, an unlikely mix of “Requiem for a Dream” and “Erin Brockovich.” It’s a glorified television movie with its heart in the right place, only lacking any sharp cinematic curveballs that could elevate the material beyond the norm. Evans is good here, revealing an intensity of thought he’s rarely displayed before, but it just isn’t enough to pull “Puncture” out of neutral.

A functioning drug addict with a whirring mind, personal injury lawyer Mike Weiss (Chris Evans) is desperate to move on to cases with substance, making a name for himself and his practical partner, Paul (co-director Mike Kassen). When an emergency room nurse (Vinessa Shaw) contracts HIV from an accidental needle prick, Mike and Paul are introduced to Jeffrey (Marshall Bell), a cantankerous manufacturer of safety syringes that hospitals have gone out of their way to ignore. Sensing a trail of corruption, Mike demands to take on the case, investigating hospital purchasing agreements and congressional interests, rankling opposing counsel (Brett Cullen). While skilled at peeling away layers of monetary interest, getting to the root of corporate evil, Mike is paralyzed by his addictions, leaving him oblivious to larger issues of personal health and debt that threaten to destroy the case.

Based on a true story (the picture is dedicated to Mike’s tumultuous existence), “Puncture” is a comfortable addition to the continued mediocrity of the Noble Lawyer genre. Filmmakers Mike and Adam Kassen wrap themselves tightly in the formula of the piece, using Mike’s drug addiction as an identifying mark on an otherwise nondescript legal drama. The character is a charming firecracker, undisturbed by the ruin of his life, ignoring the failure of his marriage, the crumbling of his living space, and the erosion of his partnership with Paul to focus on the almighty high, achieved through cocaine and heroin pursuits often enabled by young women attracted to the handsome junkie. Mike is an ideal subject for a big screen exploration, with his manic fits of brilliance and inherent decency a perfect match for moviegoers in the mood to once again watch David (the lawyer) stand up to Goliath (the corporate shell game). The man apparently even has time to frequent a gym during his extended chemical fog, making him eye candy as well. It’s a real crime “Puncture” doesn’t live up to Mike’s spectacular potential.

Once Paul and Mike commence their participation in the syringe case, “Puncture” slips into a groove of familiarity, staging scenes of research and heated deposition encounters, creating a good vs. evil structure as the boys face down arrogant lawyers and clueless bystanders. The drug abuse does create something of a spoiler on the road to victory, observing Mike neglect meetings and generally spin out of control as the case intensifies, frustrating Paul to a point of separation, inching the sane side of the partnership toward a fat cash settlement that would solve every financial worry, while burying Jeffery’s work for good. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough surprises to keep the feature alert, and it’s disconcerting to see the Kassens do away with Shaw’s character so quickly, as her story appears provocative enough to keep the picture riveting.

“Puncture” remains predictable throughout, from the highs of discovery and legal one-upmanship to the lows of disastrous court appearances and flirtations with drug overdose. Evans does a commendable job giving the film purpose, enlivening the syringe mission, solidifying the importance of an obscure issue -- the only element of the feature to remain in the senses after the end credits roll. There’s even something of a surprise ending, but it doesn’t elevate “Puncture” to any authentic plateau of significance. Instead, the movie is merely serviceable, lost in a sea of productions just like it.

Starring: Chris Evans, Mark Kassen, Vinessa Shaw
Directors: Adam Kassen, Mark Kassen

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