Netflix Pick – Puncture

Netflix Pick
Netflix Pick

A little touch and go this week at So Wizard HQ. I had a really tough time nailing down a Netflix Pick I was confident in recommending to everyone. Luckily I persisted, as if watching movies on my couch is a difficult task, and came up with one that is enjoyable at face value but is also based on some pretty serious subject matter, Puncture. Even better Chris Evans of Captain America fame is in it!

Tired of hearing your friends say they’ve watched everything on Netflix? Are you finding yourself saying that as well? Maybe the argument of people too cheap to shell out the 8 dollars are saying ‘there used to be good stuff, but it’s all crap now.’ Maybe you find yourself spending more time scrolling than watching. Well I plan to put those idiotic statements and bad behavior to rest. On a week to week basis I will give a solid recommendation or two on what you can sign on, turn on, and enjoy. I’ll try to stay away from the massive titles that everyone knows since those have been covered to exhaustion everywhere else. I’m looking for the hidden gems. The indies, the big name stars in direct to streaming endeavors that are well crafted and creative but wouldn’t gross the 300 million needed to justify a theatrical wide release.

Puncture did actually get a theatrical release, but an intro is an intro. It came out in 2011 with a limited to slightly wider release. It was a favorite at the Tribeca Film Festival of the same year. With a very different Evans than we have seen in the age of Marvel Puncture is a very interesting movie based on a true story that took place far too recently for anyone watching it to be comfortable with. A bit of the story is unbalanced but the intrigue on the subject matter makes up for some lapses in the script.

Puncture Poster

Puncture Poster

Mike Weiss (Chris Evans) and Paul Danziger (Mark Kassen) are an Odd Couple styled lawyer team. The two operate around the level of TV ambulance chasers. Vicky Rogers (Vinessa Shaw) is a nurse who accidentally gets pricked by a needle while trying to help a junkie. She contracts HIV and her life takes the obvious downward spiral. Rogers calls Weiss and Danziger to get them on her case. The case that looked like a simple worker’s compensation claim turns out to be one of the largest, and arguably most important, in American medical and antitrust history.

While Puncture is based on a true story it’s pretty clear this is the Hollywood version. The previously mentioned Odd Couple dynamic is incredibly black and white, jarringly so. Danziger plays things safe, dresses professionally, and is timid on pushing boundaries. He is part of a stable marriage and expecting a child. His concerns are small paydays to keep the company going and health insurance. Weiss is a drug addled frat boy of a lawyer who is intelligent and highly functioning even though he is high throughout the majority of the movie. He takes risks, pushes the boundaries and is more concerned with victory than anything. He dresses in odd clashing colors, his wife leaves him early on, and he’s too cool to play by the rules. Maybe Danziger and Weiss were very much like their onscreen counterparts in real life, the contrasts just seemed heavy handed.

Why Puncture is the So Wizard pick of the week is in the story itself. The real life Paul Danziger not only wrote the story for the movie but was also an executive producer. While that means things like the contrast in characters a bit heavy handed and there was likely some watering down of the less desireable traits of his on screen persona it does mean the facts are right.

The story of puncture takes Weiss and Danziger from ambulance chasers to taking on the largest manufacturers of syringes in the medical community. Staggering facts are blended into the character dialogue without making it sound like exposition or a lecture. 800,000 accidental needle sticking a year in America alone, the spread of HIV, Hep B and C, and more preventable diseases all due to the greed of large corporations not wanting to change over to a safety needle. Furthermore it’s uncovered that these companies are not only aware of the issue but stop hospitals from buying the independently produced safety needles using bribes, kickbacks, and illegal contracts.

The plot synopsis of Puncture didn’t do itself any favors in not mentioning any of the real life facts, or even the fact that it’s based on actual events. When these events start to unfold you’ll go from being along for the ride to being truly engaged in a plot that keeps spiraling deeper and becoming more and more sinister. The most bone chilling aspect of the whole drama that’s practically a horror story is that all these happened as recently as 2004. The issues discussed in the movie are on their way to being righted in America, but in poor countries around the world the issues are perpetuated at a disgusting rate.

The make Puncture a little stranger it was re released a few years later under the name Injustice, with box art now bragging “Chris Evans star of Captain America.” Puncture was a box office flop so it looks like the studios were going to recoup some lost money with Evans newly found level of fame.

The acting is solid, Evans is great doing something new, but the information contained in Puncture makes this Netflix Pick well worth your time.

Adam’s Verdict on Puncture: 3.5/5

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