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Plays Like Die Hard, With All The Action, Wit And Tension Sucked Out
Mercury Rising (DVD)
Member Name: wampyrii
Mercury Rising (DVD)
Date: 08/01/02, updated on 08/01/02 (53 review reads)
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Harold Becker is one of those directors who tends to take an average plot and then stretch it out over a movie’s running length irrespective of how many holes appear in its fabric by doing so. With Mercury Rising he gives us another example of this and whilst it may be watchable it is nothing more than sub-standard Hollywood fare complete with all the usual derivative trappings, ludicrous plot twists and gigantic holes which make it a very bitter pill to swallow. Its not the worst thriller you’ll ever see, but equally its one which asks you to pretend you are a blithering idiot if you are going to get any enjoyment out of it.
Once again we are introduced to a plot which tells us that the government has secret agencies within its secret agencies(the US government that is) which are so secret that only a select few know of their existence. This particular agency has been working on a new code for use by its agents in the field which will be completely unbreakable as shown by it having two “velociraptor” computers working on breaking it for weeks without any success. The techie nerds behind it are all rather chuffed with themselves, so much so that they decide to give it one last try out in an online puzzle magazine just for a giggle at the punters trying to break it...one does. They have failed to realise that the human brain is a strange uncharted place and the person who broke the code is little more than a 9 year old autistic child. Infuriated by their monumental blunder their boss Alec Baldwin orders the mess cleaned up by removing all trace of the department...and killing the boy and his family!
All is not lost though because although the boys parents are killed and the scene made to look like a family having commited suicide, the boy manages to escape harm by hiding in a linen closet and falls under the protective wing of a disgraced and therefore recently demoted FBI agent who is working on finding out who his parents k
illers are. This agent, Art Jefferies played by Bruce Willis screwed up a hostage situation which lead to two kids being gunned down which is his loose reason for caring so much about protecting this one. He risks life and limb to save the boy from harm whilst trying to expose the government agency for what they are trying to do...
Of course, a quick phonecall to the local police, a national newspaper etc. would have acheived that task for him but that would be way too easy. Instead we have a whole bunch of running about the place in true Die Hard fashion with all thoughts of reality being tossed aside in favour of stunts and tough guy imagery....none of which are done particularly well or generate very much excitement. This was Willis’ fourth duff movie in a row and seemed to mark something of a decline in the star’s career before movies like The Sixth Sense threw him right back up to the top again. Following on the back of lacklustre flops like Last Man Standing, The Jackal and The Fifth Element(well I hated it anyway) Mercury Rising seemed as much like a death knell as it did a movie. Willis can perform this kind of role in his sleep now, he’s been doing it for long enough atnd thats exactly how he comes across here - as a guy sleepwalking through the running length. Its old hat and boring for him and thats exactly how he plays it - John Maclean all over again just different settings and with a kid in tow this time. He ain’t bad, but he ain’t good either if you know what I mean. Alec Baldwin is also on show here as the bad guy bossman behind the murderous operation to protect national security at all costs. Considering his lack of compassion for a child and how easily the decision to ‘erase’ him is, he doesn’t come across as being either particularly callous or particularly menacing which is deeply disappointing. In fact, he’s rather wooden, but then that’s nothing new! Fortunately he’s no
t in it very much either...unfortunately, a bunch of generic FBI-type secret service bods are, who are all very faceless and not really worth a mention - you know the kind of thing to expect, dull generic and charicatured government agents with guns and suits. The real star of the show is Miko Hughes who plays an autistic child as well as Dustin Hoffman played an autistic adult some 15/20 years previously. Hollywood has some awesome child actors at its disposal which makes it all the more disappointing that the Harry Potter movie couln’t have dug around for a little more talent because its so obviously out there. Miko is the star of the show and its a shame he hasn’t been around much since...or at least, I haven’t seen him around much since.
The real problem with Mercury Rising is that the whole thing is just far too implausible and painfully derivative, which may be the fault of the book it comes from called Simple Simon or of a talentless screenwriter. Either way, its difficult for any director to generate tension when its patently obvious what the outcome of every situation will be, not only because we all know that the good guy is going to win in the end, but also because we have seen the scenes a million times before in other movies. Just changing the locations doesn’t make them original. Willis can play this role as well as anyone but he can’t make a ludicrous situation appear believable and he can’t bring tension into a scene without any help from those around him. Sometimes there are the occassional nail-biting moments, like when they are ducking between the trains, but these are brief, few and far between and sadly do not manage to maintain the tension for very long before it slips away again. The conclusion to the movie is obvious before it even begins but the humdrum fashion in which it transpires is exceedingly awful and the final segment so bloody obvious that its almost painful to sit through.
ry Rising is not the worst thriller you are going to sit through in your lifetime, mainly because of the presence of Miko Hughes and Bruce Willis but its also not one of the best either. It is so painfully derivative that it could never struggle above an average rating and is dragged deeper into the mire by a number of contrived or simply ludicrous situations. Movies often ask us to suspend our disbelief at what we are watching and more often than not we are willing to do so, but sometimes they ask us to pretend we are bloody idiots and we tell them to bugger off. Mercury Rising is one of the latter unfortunately.