Friday, July 17, 2015

"Puncture": Chris Evans stars as idealistic but flawed lawyer going against corporate interests that may have made HIV much worse

Puncture” (2011), directed by Paul and Adam Kassem with story by Paul Danziger, is a bit like a John Grisham legal thriller (like “Rainman”) with evil insurance and pharmaceutical companies, set in the late 1990s.

Mike Weiss (Chris Evans) and Paul (played by Mark Kassem) are the underdog Houston lawyers, and Mike has a character weakness – drug addiction, which puts him in the hospital after a vomiting spell in the film’s middle section.  Are such fallibilities of rooting-interest protagonists necessary?  This is appears to be based on a true story (Weiss’s dates are given as 1967-1999). 

The lawyers stumble upon a plaintiff Vicky (Vanessa Shaw) with HIV from a hospital needlestick. The course of the litigation shows that the corporate defendants conspired to keep safer syringes out of the market to boost profits.  The script at one point seems to blame the companies for the entire HIV epidemic explosion in the 1980s, as well as the subsequent outbreak of Hepatitis C.

The screenplay has a lot of exposition, with characters explaining the sins of the companies rather than engaging in natural dialogue.  Maybe this argues that the film should have been a documentary. 

 The film is a bit low-keyed for the seriousness of the subject matter. 

The most relevant website now seems to be “Safe Needle”. 

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of downtown Houston by Henry Wan, under Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0 license.  
 I visited the city many times while living in Dallas in the 1980s.  

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