Broken Vessels Review

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A junkie ambulance driver demonstrates to his new partner why medication is in fact wasted on the sick.


Acclaimed Stateside as "Trainspotting-meets-Repo Man", this offering from indie up-and-comer Ziehl does not sadly feature the sight of Harry Dean Stanton cold turkeying to the strains of Primal Scream, but instead offers up a portrait of medical life that suggests ER has not been telling the entire truth.

London stars as innocent-with-a-past Tom Meyer who, after getting a job at James Hong's shonky firm of paramedics, is paired with veteran Jimmy Warzniak (Field). Field, it transpires, has a reputation for going through partners with a swiftness that would shame Dirty Harry, and it doesn't take long for London to figure out why; our hero's new partner turns out to be a heroin addict who likes fondling unconscious patients' breasts and blackmailing OD victims' friends.

At first Meyer is appalled, but is slowly persuaded that a rigorous ambulance-driving schedule can still accommodate the odd spot of whoring, thieving and dragon-chasing. As Warzniak points out, they'd make more money flipping burgers; why shouldn't they pilfer the odd cachet of Class A pharmaceuticals?

Essentially a bargain basement Bringing Out The Dead, the result nevertheless fights well above its budgetary weight, with both London and Field entirely convincing as people determined to snort, smoke or inject all the drugs in LA.

Ziehl's imaginative direction brilliantly negotiates the occasional clunkiness of the script in a manner explains why Miramax subsequently signed him up for a multi-picture deal. Whether viewers will have the same confidence next time they dial 999 is another question altogether.