Review: Puncture (2011)


As a hypothetical project, Adam and Mark Kassen’s Puncture (2011) has a lot of promise. It offers an intriguing story, multidimensional characters, and a complex antihero who is likely to tug at the viewer’s heartstrings. However, as a fully realized film, Puncture does not deliver on any of those levels. It falls flat early in the movie, never gaining enough momentum to redeem its lackluster quality.

Puncture tells the story of Mike Weiss (Chris Evans), an intelligent lawyer whose biggest vice, amongst many, is his drug addiction. The drug induced Mike, along with his partner, Paul Danziger (Mark Kassen), take on a medical case involving Vicky (Vinessa Shaw), a nurse who acquired AIDS through an accidental needle prick while helping a seizing drug patient. Vicky explains to Mike and Paul that she is not looking for monetary compensation, but rather that she wants to keep other nurses safe by requiring hospitals to use a new retractable safety needle, which Vicky’s friend, Jeffrey Dancourt (Marshall Bell), invented. The lawyers believe that this is a straightforward case, but as they begin their investigation, they find that they may be taking on more than they expected.

The David and Goliath aspect of the story will appeal to viewers, who will constantly be rooting for Mike and Paul to win their case. However, to those who look beyond the surface, Puncture offers nothing more than a clichéd story and preachy dialogue. Adam and Mark Kassen’s direction adds to the weakness of the film due to their inability to have any focus. The film constantly teeters between melodrama and thriller, yet the two directors never manage to blend the two into a coherent amalgamation. Instead, the two genres counteract one another, impeding in one another’s ability to leave an impression on the audience. For instance, the thriller aspects, which involve researching the pharmaceutical companies, lack any suspense because the audience must also focus on the melodramatic aspects, aka Mike’s drug problem. The film forces the audience to divide their attention between both storylines, yet the emotional involvement is too taxing. The effort to care about corporate bureaucracy and a man’s acceptance of his addiction counterbalance one another, leading to a reaction from the audience that borders between forced sympathy and apathy.

The only saving grace is Chris Evans gritty portrayal as Mike Weiss, which, even though it is a bold step for the actor, still has its limitations. Like George Clooney and Christian Bale, Evans attempts to move away from his typecast roles and branch out into more dramatic territory. However, the difference between Evans and his predecessors is that his predecessors had better material to work with. Adam and Mark Kassen only offer a mediocre script and a poorly constructed film that relegates Evans’ performance to that of an afterschool special. It is aggravating because Evans has an organic talent, but the directors impede his ability to perform to his fullest potential. His performance is stripped bare and, through the magic of editing and production value, is replaced with fluff and Styrofoam peanuts.

Puncture gives off little substance. Instead of doing justice to Weiss’ real-life story, Mark and Adam Kassen create a film that is on par with a poorly constructed Frankenstein monster. The film is Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007) re-edited by The 700 Club, or Erin Brokovich (Steven Soderbergh, 2000) remade for Lifetime. The source material has the potential to push boundaries and to make an impact, but the direction of two Kassens dumps the story into clichéd genre conventions, less-than-stellar cinematography, and bad filmmaking. The execution is poor, and unfortunately, the movie would have made a better impact if it had stayed as an idea jotted down on a post-it.

53/100 - Adam and Mark Kassen film is like Frankenstein’s monster, one whose parts are constantly falling apart at the seams.

Jose Gallegos

I'm an aspiring filmmaker from Los Angeles. Recently, I graduated from USC with my Bachelors in Cinema/Television Production and French (yes, I'm a "phile" for all things "cine" and "franco"). I will continue my academic career by pursuing a Masters in Film Studies at UCLA (feel free to call me a traitor).