A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Playing God'' opens with the hero deep in trouble. Eugene Sands (David Duchovny) is a former surgeon, now a druggie, who's in a scuzzy bar looking to score synthetic heroin. Shabby as he looks, he attracts the eye of a dazzling woman across the room--but then shots ring out and a man is gravely wounded.
Sands argues, not unreasonably, that someone should call 911. But there are reasons the police should not be involved in this shooting, and soon the defrocked doc is re-enacting one of those classic movie situations where he barks orders and prepares for instant surgery. A master of improvisation (few battlefield surgeons must be this creative), he fashions a breathing apparatus out of a plastic pop bottle and some tubing from the club soda siphon, cuts a hole in the guy's chest, plugs the tube into his lung and restores vital signs. Of course the beautiful woman, named Claire (Angelina Jolie), has the right stuff and could become an expert ER nurse.
It is a tribute of some sort to Duchovny, the "The X-Files'' star, that I was almost able to believe this was possible. He's a convincing actor. Among those his character convinces in the movie is Raymond Blossom (Timothy Hutton), a shady millionaire, who invites Sands to his home and gives him $10,000 for saving his colleague's life. Also at Blossom's home is, inevitably, Claire, a not-uncommon type in the movies: Living with a rich and dangerous man, she makes eyes at every poor slob who drifts into range.
In a flashback, we learn the sad story of ex-Dr. Sands. Up for 28 hours straight and exhausted, he once tried balancing uppers and downers and did it so well he came to a complete halt, losing a patient in the process. His license was lifted, and now he's a man without a career or future, until Blossom offers him one. The older man has a lot of pals who get shot, it appears. And none of them much want to go to the hospital. Blossom offers Sands a retainer to come on staff as the house specialist in gunshot wounds.