Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Cliches aside, Emily Blunt and Chris Evans bring charm to Pain Hustlers

Director David Yates takes a break from the world of wizards for his latest feature in Pain Hustlers from Netflix. Wells Tower and Evan Hughes wrote the screenplay of the film. It is a fictional story that draws inspiration from the 2010 Opioid Crisis, a public health emergency in the United States caused by the over-prescription and abuse of opioid painkillers.

Liza Drake, played by Emily Blunt, is a single mother who has recently lost her job. She struggles to make ends meet and is desperate for a way out. One day, she meets Pete Brenner, portrayed by Chris Evans, a pharmaceutical sales representative. He offers her a job that promises to put her on a path to financial stability. However, the job comes with a catch. Liza is involved in a dangerous racketeering scheme that challenges her ethical boundaries.

Liza’s boss, Dr. Neel, played by Andy Garcia, is unstable and difficult to work with. Additionally, her daughter Phoebe, portrayed by Chloe Coleman, suffers from a medical condition that worsens daily. As Liza becomes more aware of the harm caused by the company, she must decide if the risks of participating in the scheme are worth the potential rewards.

With the awards season underway, Pain Hustlers flew under my radar. However, as a fan of Emily Blunt and Chris Evans, I decided to give the film a chance. Like most narrative features that use a fictitious approach to telling a true story, Pain Hustlers opens up with some participants discussing the effect of having Liza Drake in their lives. We then travel back to 2010 with Liza working at a strip club where she crosses paths with Evans, who promises to change her life.

The bulk of Pain Hustlers’ narrative focuses on the relationship between Evans and Blunt, with both fully committing to the overly safe material. After spending almost two decades in the industry, both actors could effortlessly sell their portrayals even in their sleep. Evans, in particular, goes against his usual type and portrays a money-hungry individual who does not want to wait for success. I commend him for using an accent.

Blunt is enjoyable as always, and watching her character come up without losing sight of who she is working in a Cinderella-type way. The supporting cast falls into caricatures. Andy Garcia, Catherine O’Hara, and Chloe Coleman are all just playing extensions of other characters from their previous roles. Nevertheless, the chemistry between the characters aids the story’s overall impact. The narrative progression and character motivations are evident, which makes it easy to become emotionally invested in the story.

The film does have 122 minutes, but the pacing moves along just fine if the goal is to explore the impact of this crisis on individuals, families, and communities and shed light on the complex issues surrounding addiction and the healthcare system.

Although Pain Hustlers has potential as a one-time watch about the Opioid Crisis, it may receive negative reviews from other critics and fail to make a lasting impression on audiences due to its arrival on the heels of Dope Sick. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the film and recommend it to fans of its cast.

Final Grade: B-
Pain Hustlers is in limited theaters now and available to stream on Netflix tomorrow.

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