'Shot': Film Review

Courtesy of Paladin
Doesn't hit the target.

Noah Wyle plays a man who suffers a life-threatening injury after being struck by a stray bullet in Jeremy Kagan's drama.

Noah Wyle finds himself back in an ER — only as a patient, not a doctor — in Jeremy Kagan’s drama illustrating that getting shot really, really hurts. Terrifically effective when vividly illustrating the emergency medical procedures necessary to keep a gun victim alive, Shot falls short in terms of narrative. But it will certainly resonate for anyone who’s ever been rushed to a hospital.  

The heavy-handedness of Anneke Campbell and Will Lamborn’s screenplay is evidenced by the opening scene, in which the film’s central character, Mark (Wyle), is shown to be a sound mixer adjusting the volume on a bloody shootout scene in a Western movie. Real-life violence intrudes shortly afterwards when, during an outdoor argument with his wife, Phoebe (Sharon Leal), over their impending divorce, Mark suffers a gunshot wound to his chest.

The perpetrator, Miguel (Jorge Lendeborg, Jr.), is a teenager who was in the process of buying an illegal gun to protect himself from being bullied at school when it suddenly went off. Horrified by his accidental shooting of a total stranger, Miguel ditches the gun and flees. Minutes later, paramedics arrive and begin working on Mark while attempting to gauge the exact seriousness of his injuries. He’s then transferred by ambulance to the hospital, where an experienced attending doctor (Xander Berkeley) and team of nurses methodically treat his severe trauma, which includes a collapsed lung. They also explore the issue of whether or not Mark has been paralyzed as a result of the shooting.

Kagan frequently uses split-screen throughout, most effectively when simultaneously showing Mark’s emergency room treatment and Miguel’s emotional desperation as he tries to figure out what to do. Among the people to whom he confesses are a local priest, who advises Miguel to turn himself into the police, and his mother, who flatly orders him not to, arguing that as a young black man he won’t stand a chance of being treated fairly.

These scenes involving the panicked shooter are ultimately not as engrossing as the detailed depiction of Mark’s very painful, frightening and even embarrassing treatment in the emergency room in which the nurses, whether trying to alleviate their patient’s nervousness or their own boredom, crack irreverent jokes.

Even less effective is the final section set six months later, when — spoiler alert — Mark is shown dealing with the emotional and physical aftermath of the incident. The final shot, in particular, feels awfully treacly compared to the relative grittiness of everything that’s preceded it.

You can’t fault the film’s intentions, made clear during the end credits featuring gun violence statistics and information about a website where viewers can get more information. Thanks to its medical realism and Wyle’s strong performance, Shot makes graphically clear the physical damage that an errant bullet can deliver. But that doesn’t stop it from feeling more like a PSA than a fully fleshed-out drama.

Production companies: AC Transformative Media, Great Point Media
Distributor: Paladin
Cast: Noah Wyle, Sharon Leal, Jorge Lendeborg, Jr., Eve Kagan, Joy Osmanski, Elaine Hendrix, Xander Berkeley, Sarah Clarke, Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Director: Jeremy Kagan
Screenwriters: Will Lamborn, Anneke Campbell
Producers: Jeremy Kagain, Dave O’Brien, Josh Siegel
Executive producers: Jonathan Kagan, Robert Halmi Jr., Jerry Offsay, Jim Reeve, Noah Wyle
Director of photography: Jacek Laskus
Production designer: Chuck Parker|
Editor: Norman Hollyn
Costume designer: Nik Venet
Composer: Bruce Broughton
Casting: Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee

89 minutes