Directed by David Yates and loosely inspired by a real-life Big Pharma scandal, Pain Hustlers first premiered at this year’s TIFF before finding its way to Netflix. The star-studded feature about greed, ambition, and painkillers is similar in tone to Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street yet not nearly as poignant as other recently released white-collar crime dramas.
Where can you watch Pain Hustlers in the UAE?
Pain Hustlers is now streaming on Netflix in the UAE. If you don’t have one, you can create a Netflix account to watch this series and other shows on Netflix. Unfortunately, Netflix does not offer any free trials in Dubai and the UAE, so you’ll have to subscribe for at least one month.
When we first meet protagonist Liza Drake (played by the excellent Emily Blunt), she’s a down-on-her-luck single mother working at a strip club to provide for her epileptic daughter (Chloe Coleman). At the club, she meets and befriends Pete Brenner (Chris Evans), who, impressed with her sales skills, offers her a job at his failing pharmaceutical company, Zanna.
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A desperate Liza takes Pete up on his offer and gets the job after impressing the company’s eccentric founder, Jack Neel (Andy García). Allowing Pete to write fake credentials on her CV might have helped the hiring process.
The company is on the verge of bankruptcy as sales reps are struggling to get physicians to prescribe its flagship painkiller drug to cancer patients. That’s where Liza and her persuasion abilities come in. She helps the company grow from obscurity into a bonafide profitable business.
Of course, not everything she does is above board. This is a film about the American opioid epidemic, so it doesn’t take long before the company’s actions result in a body count. While Zanna is a fictional company, the film’s story was inspired by the fall of Insys Therapeutics, whose executives were accused of bribing and even racketeering.
A rags-to-riches tale of drugs
This year, we’ve seen several titles exploring the opioid crisis, including the Netflix limited series Painkiller. Yet Pain Hustlers takes a more flashy, rags-to-riches approach to the subgenre. We watch these characters build wealth from nothing, we watch them make terrible decisions, and we also see them face the consequences of said illegalities.
Using a mockumentary-style format works well for expositional purposes. However, the voiceovers are overdone, and after a while, it gets annoying having different characters constantly explaining what’s happening on screen. This might be a biased criticism, as I’m not usually a fan of voiceovers.
Pain Hustlers does have an excellent cast led by Evans and Blunt. However, aside from Blunt’s protagonist, all the other characters are one-dimensional. It would have been nice to get some sort of backstory or depth.
And that’s why this film isn’t as compelling as it could have been. While it has an intriguing and currently relevant premise, it fails to explore it meaningfully. Instead, we get a strong start, followed by too many party scenes, complete with a rushed ending.
The movie is very entertaining, but by focusing on the party-like atmosphere at the fictional pharmaceutical company, it does lose sight of the topic’s seriousness. While Pain Hustler is visually appealing and features an excellent cast, it’s ultimately a less compelling version of other similar films.
What are other critics saying about Pain Hustlers (Video Reviews):
Austin Burke enjoyed the performances but didn’t think the film stood out enough within the genre.
Movies And Munchies praised Emily Blunt and the mother-daughter relationship portrayed in the film. He did criticize how the other characters felt one-dimensional and hard to connect with.
Justin Watches Movies felt the film didn’t add depth to its dark subject matter.
Lori C. is an entertainment writer who studied Film and Television at University. She watches and reviews films and series from most genres, but some of her favourites include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, and True Blood.