I’ll preface this by saying, I thought this would be hard to do each week. It’s scary how easy it is.
Pusher is the latest Jonathan Levine film (The Wackness, 50/50) starring Andrew Garfield as an ambitious young student name Nick Marshall at University of NY Law School (fictional, but it’s NYU). He’s great in the classroom, is going to graduate at the top of his class and everyone likes him, including fellow law student Willa played by Bryce Dallas Howard. Despite Willa’s father Police Chief Charles Winston, played by Ed Harris disliking Nick initially, they begin dating and are eventually engaged to be married. While everything seems to be going well for Nick and he’s close to graduation, there is a big secret about him that no one else knows. Nick has always been secretive about where he comes from and who his family is. Turns out he actually the nephew of the infamous Santorini Crime Family headed by Vinny “The Dog” Santorini. Vinny played by Chazz Palmintieri has been using Nick for years as a drug dealer. Anything that the wealthy mafioso needs to sell he gives to Nick to unload on the wealthy elite and their students. Because he only sells to the rich and powerful elite, there is very little chance that their will be blowback on him. People like him and they like his products.
As the first 20 mins progress we see Nick and Willa preparing to plan their wedding and right around the time that Chief Winston starts to appreciate the man that Nick is becoming Willa witnesses a murder and goes to her father with information regarding the murder that could potentially implicate the Santorini crime family. Unbeknownst to this information, Nick says to her that she has to come forward, it is the only right thing to do. Vinny Santorini, has eyes and ears everywhere and knows that Willa could destroy everything his family built, so on Nick’s next pickup of the best coke ever, he has one of his goons switch out the product with something more lethal. Around this time, we find out that Willa has been using Nick’s product without his knowledge. She has not done drugs yet at any point of the movie, but it’s what needs to happen to further along the plot. Anyway, she ends up picking off a little bit of Nick’s stash during their engagement party and she overdoses and dies in the bathroom. Of course when she’s found both Nick and Chief Winston are horrified and Nick sees the special baggie that he put his drugs in on the floor next to her. He knows it was from his stash. After the toxicology is done on Willa, Nick finds out that the it was not actually coke in her system, but some lethal poison. Chief Winston vows to find whomever is slinging the drugs around and make them pay, but it’s Nick who actually selling the drugs!
Nick goes to Vinny The Dog Santorini asking him why he would ever do that to him, he loved her. And Vinny says it’s nothing personal, but she had dirt on them and the only way to keep the family safe was to let her go. He says that he did what he knew Nick would never be able to to protect the family. Nick has a very dramatic monologue and he says that he wont get away with it and leaves. Vinny’s number 2 man, played by a horribly un-italian Jim Caviezel, Tony Ice, begins to follow Nick just to make sure he doesn’t do anything crazy. Nick begins to unravel though as the movie draws on, he knows that if he confesses to Chief Winston he’ll more than likely be a marked man, but he also knows that if he stays quiet, than it means that Vinny wins. He’ll always be able to take anything away from Nick just as easily as he gives it. While Nick wants to leave Vinny and the family behind, he can’t because Vinny has been the parents to him that he’s never had.
Chief Winston is getting closer and closer to finding out that Nick was the supplier to not only Willa, but all of the wealthy elite, but because they are of a higher status, his investigation comes up on dead ends. Winston goes to Nick one day and says that he might lost his daugther, but he’s gained a son or something to that effect just to make you feel even worse about the reveal later on. One day right as Nick is going to pickup another batch of drugs he overhears Tony asking Vinny what to do if Nick starts causing trouble again. Vinny says if he’s a problem, take him out, but do it like you did Nick’s parents. They never had the heart for the family business and it’s looking like “da apple don’t far too fah from da tree” as he’s putting in office. Nick leaves before being spotted.
The next day Nick pretends like he’s just picking up a shipment just like usual and even mentions that he’d actually like to start dealing even more. He needs something to take his mind off of Willa and his work has always helped him to blah blah blah, so Vinny, feeling happy to see Nick starting to come around gives him a large enough parcel of indiscriminant drugs to get a higher class felony charge if he Nick was caught. Nick sells off all the drugs and makes a few hundred thousand dollars and then skips town. Vinny nervous that Nick might have gotten himself arrested, starts having Tony fill in on Nick’s drug runs. Before Nick left town he left a letter at the police station for Chief Winston. We see this all play out as Nick’s plane touches down in some tropical locale. He says that there is a lot about him that no one, even Willa knew about him, but Willa taught him that nothing was more important than family. He comes clean to Winston about everything. The drugs,how he sold to the elite, and his connnection to the Santorini crime family, Willa’s poisoning, and where Winston could find Tony. Winston now has all of the information that he would need to get his revenge on the family. Next we see Winston capturing all of the Santorini crime family and bringing them all to justice. Before Vinny is arrested, we see a letter that Nick wrote for him that read “nothing is more important than family” and the cops, with Winston, bust the door down.
We see Nick now lives in Brazil and is a painter and is attempting to start his life over as a teacher or something. We see that he and Winston communicate from time to time and that Winston now has an odd, misplaced fatherly respect for Nick. Years pass, and Nick returns home (after the statute of limitations on all the drugs he was selling passes) and he and Winston attempt to have a legitimate father and son relationship or something.