Mercury Rising (1998) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Bruce Willis has starred in so many films that it is hard to categorize his work. But it is safe to say there are ‘good bad’ Bruce Willis flicks like The Jackal and Hostage; then there is just ‘bad’ like The Whole Ten Yards and Striking Distance. Mercury Rising straddles the line between the two. On one hand it has high-caliber talent in a pricey production with all the bells and whistles something of this stature comes equipped with. Yet, it is hindered by a muddy look, familiar scenarios and obvious dialogue delivered in an obvious manner. Once the story sets up its main dilemma then it is virtually non-stop chases and narrow escapes until the finale. It just takes so damn long for the mechanics of the plot to revolve that the film creaks along until the midway point.

Art Jefferies (Bruce Willis) is a F.B.I. agent, who becomes the sole protector of an autistic boy. Simon (Miko Hughes) is no ordinary handicapped child, he has cracked the most advanced encryption code known to man. This ability renders Simon a threat, especially if he were to become captured by foreign enemies. Shadow Program Chief Nick Kudrow (Alec Baldwin) orders that Simon be classified as a “security threat” and must be eliminated immediately. Jefferies and Simon quickly realize they are on their own and no one can be trusted. As the formerly disgraced agent and the autistic boy elude attackers and discover the conspiracy behind a double murder also linked to the code, they must use each other to brink Kudrow to justice.

Harold Becker is a peculiar choice to direct, his strengths lie in drama. This is evident because the movie excels on the theatrical side and is butchered on the action front. It’s apparent Becker handed off the fights, stunts, and gunplay to his second-unit crew. The pieces don’t fit, making the whole movie feel like a patch-work job that barely clings together from scene to scene. All of this confusion is hammered home by an over-bearing score from the usually magnificent composer John Barry. Mercury Rising is a cold fish, it’s D.O.A.

Director: Harold Becker
Stars: Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Miko Hughes

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