It is easily the best performance thus far in Chris Evans' career but sadly will likely be one of his least watched.
Puncture is based on a true story about a drug addicted lawyer who tries to save lives by working on a case that exploits hospitals’ failure to use available safer needle equipment. The film was directed by Adam Kassen and Mark Kassen and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last year. In his career best performance, Chris Evans’ character fights to do the right thing while fighting to stay alive because of his destructive addictions.
Puncture opens with the song “Road To Joy” by Bright Eyes and shows a day in the life of a young mother dropping her kids off to school then proceeding to show her day at work. She works in the emergency room as a nurse. A PCP overdosed patient comes in shaking so bad that she gets sticks the needle while trying to administer a shot.
Then we jump three years later in 1998 where Mike Weiss (Chris Evans) is doing drugs with hookers in a hotel room while doing research on a current case he is working on. He assembles a practice courtroom in the room going over his defense case. In between reciting lines he is doing lines of cocaine. The next shot is him in the real court room continuing on his point he was practicing.
As you can tell Mike Weiss is not your typical lawyer. He is an intelligent lawyer who happens to have a drug addiction. But most importantly he has the courage to lose for what is right. “Sometimes the brightest light comes from the darkest places,” is a line that is so important that it is repeated by two different characters. The reason why it is repeated twice is because the directors did not want you to miss how it is an exact metaphor for what Weiss’ character represents.
We find out that the girl from the beginning ended up contracting AIDS because of that needle getting stuck. She ends up getting in contact with Weiss and his attorney partner Danziger (Mark Kassen) about her situation. Only she is not concerned about the winning a case to gain money, she simply wants safer needles in hospitals. So she sets them up to meet the inventor of Safety Point.
He is baffled that even though there is a new needle that was developed to prevent the needle from getting stuck, a nurse’s dream, none of the hospitals will buy it. After a trip to talk to the hospital about this he gets the run-around. He speaks to a dozen of different departments and top directors telling him they do not want to see the needle. After doing some research he finds out that the hospitals are getting paid kick-backs to buy the old needles.
The two start a case against a medical supply organization but the organization has an abundance of what Weiss and Danziger do not have, money and power. Right when they start to realize they do not have to funds to continue what will be a costly battle in court, they get a call from a Senator that is interested in the case. After they present their case the Senator agrees to offer her support. But there is one condition, it is so noticeable that Weiss using cocaine that the Senator calls him out on it by saying he needs to become clean for her to support them.
Chris Evans as Mike Weiss proved that he can play more than just the comic book roles he has done. It is easily the best performance thus far in his career but sadly will likely be one of his least watched. Not only does he show his acting range but he handled the task very well of making the viewer care about a good person who makes bad decisions.
Ultimately, the message Puncture gives is even if you are not perfect and the odds are stacked up against you, stand up for what you believe in. Weiss had enough determination to sacrifice everything he could, including himself, in order to pave the way for a safer needle for all. When he does not accept early buy-out settlements only proves that.
It is frustrating that films such as Fantastic Four, Captain America and Thor do exponentially better in the box office than a film like Puncture. Not that it was at all similar to those other films, but it is a shame that Chris Evans’ performance here will be missed by most. The film is not perfect, some questions go left unanswered, but it is worth watching.