Pain Hustlers is the new Netflix movie directed by David Yates and based on Evan Hughes‘ 2022 book. The movie promises a thrilling dive into the seedy underbelly of Central Florida’s pharmaceutical industry. With a stellar cast featuring Emily Blunt, Chris Evans, Andy García, Catherine O’Hara, Jay Duplass, Brian d’Arcy James, and Chloe Coleman, you might expect a gripping narrative woven seamlessly with compelling performances. However, what unfolds on screen is a disjointed and often confusing attempt at a crime drama, leaving viewers more confused than entertained.
The film centers around Liza Drake, played by Emily Blunt, a high school dropout who stumbles into a job with a failing pharmaceutical company. The premise holds promise, but the execution falls short. Blunt’s portrayal of Liza doesn’t have any depth. None. The result is we have a character who comes off as one-dimensional and unrelatable. Blunt is a very talented actress who seems out of place in this role. Her performance fails to convince us that she’s a relatively young woman navigating the treacherous waters of the pharmaceutical industry.
Chris Evans delivers a performance that feels oddly detached. As Pete Brenner, Liza’s colleague and love interest, Evans comes off as rather disengaged throughout the film. This doesn’t help with Liza’s character as they both fail to establish a genuine connection with Blunt’s character. Their on-screen chemistry, or lack thereof, makes it difficult for viewers to get emotionally invested in their relationship and leaves a void at the heart of the story.
Catherine O’Hara graces us with her portrayal of Liza’s mother, Jackie Drake. Catherine is great and brings her usual charm to the screen but is never really allowed to shine. Her character is underdeveloped and is mostly on the sidelines for other characters. Sadly, O’Hara’s talent is wasted in a role that lacks substance, leaving viewers wanting more depth and intricacy these characters.
Andy García as Jack Neel, Jay Duplass as Brent Larkin, and the rest of the supporting cast add little to the overall narrative. Their characters are poorly written, offering minimal insight into their motivations or backgrounds. As a result, the audience is left with a sense of detachment, unable to fully invest in the unfolding events.
The screenplay, penned by Wells Tower, doesn’t provide a coherent or engaging storyline. The plot twists, intended to create suspense, come across as forced and contrived. Subplots are introduced and discarded haphazardly, leaving loose ends that are never tied up. The film’s pacing is erratic, with moments of intense action abruptly juxtaposed with prolonged periods of stagnation. This uneven rhythm disrupts the flow of the story, making it difficult for viewers to remain immersed in the plot.
Furthermore, Pain Hustlers struggles with its identity, wavering between a crime drama and a dark comedy without embracing either genre. The tone is inconsistent, leaving viewers unsure on how they’re supposed to interpret what they’re watching. This lack of clarity hampers the overall viewing experience. As a viewer, it’s truly a challenge to fully engage with this narrative.
Visually, the film offers little alternatives for its story shortcomings. While Central Florida’s picturesque landscapes are captured beautifully, the cinematography lacks real innovation. Scenes that could have been visually striking seem to use uninspired camerawork and don’t seem very exciting.
Pain Hustlers is a missed opportunity, squandering the potential of its talented cast and intriguing premise. Despite the star-studded lineup, the film’s lackluster performances, underdeveloped characters, and disjointed plot prevent it from rising above mediocrity. While there are moments of fleeting intrigue, they are overshadowed by the overall confusion and dissatisfaction the film leaves in its wake. For those seeking a gripping crime drama, Pain Hustlers falls disappointingly short, leaving audiences longing for a more compelling cinematic experience.
- Acting - 5.5/105.5/10
- Cinematography/Visual Effects - 5/105/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 4/104/10
- Setting/Theme - 4/104/10
- Watchability - 4/104/10
- Rewatchability - 2/102/10