Simon Lynch is an autistic child with a brain to solve puzzles. Art Jefferies is an FBI agent on the outs with the bureau. Their worlds collide when Simon inadvertently cracks a top secret government code and ends up in the crosshairs of government assassins. Can Art keep Simon safe and take out the bad guys (and maybe get the girl)? Find out in… Mercury Rising.
How?! Art is an FBI agent extraordinaire and he don’t take no guff from nobody. This of course gets him in hot water with his boss after a big undercover job goes south in South Dakota. Sent to desk duty he refuses to quit and boy howdy are we glad he did. That’s because poor little Simon, a boy with autism, is about to crack a new uncrackable government code that a couple of very smart dopes decide to put in a puzzle magazine for funsies. But when Simon cracks it with his beautiful mind, shit hits the fan and the bad guys start coming after Simon. A government hitman kills his parents but is spooked before getting Simon. Enter Art who uses his own beautiful mind to find Simon and figure out that something just isn’t right. Dead set on protecting the kid he foils the government hitman at every turn while dealing with a kid who he doesn’t understand and who doesn’t understand him (it’s touching). Soon people are dropping like flies and Bruce Willis builds a group of friends and strangers who realize that what seemed like paranoid delusions might actually be real and might actually go all the way to the top of the NSA. Oh no! In a climactic final scene they are able to foil the head of the NSA as he tries one last time to kidnap Simon and he totally murders him and everyone is like “good.” Soon Art finds himself visiting Simon in his new school and scores that big hug from Simon. Awwww. THE END. Big Question: How big a news story would this be? The head of the NSA is killed by police and falls off a skyscraper in Chicago… or would they use their spooky powers to hide it? GASP.
Why?! Our boy Bruce just can’t stay out of the action. He just does what’s right and what’s necessary without all that bureaucratic bullshit. The bad guy is just covering his ass and the child is just a child who loves puzzles (I identify).
Who?! Huh… how weird. I mean, we watched this film for Alec Baldwin and his bevy of brothers, but without realizing it we also picked a film with a sibling of another famous actor in it. Believe it or not John Travolta’s sister Margaret has a speaking role in this film! She’s a nurse that explains autism to Bruce Willis. We see you working Margaret Travolta.
What?! There is a shocking amount of product placement in this guy (Swiss Miss, sip it slowleeeeeee). Probably my favorite is the number of times that Starbucks shows up, culminating in the Starbucks meet-cute between our boy Bruce Willis and Stacy. What’s even crazier is that the Starbucks that they meet in is still in that exact same location in Chicago! It feels like there is still an opportunity to corner the market on Mercury Rising walking tours.
Where?! This is a super Chicago setting, although the film could be set almost anywhere. Lots of sights and sounds of Chicago. We also have part of the film set in DC and some brief scenes in South Dakota and Thailand. If we had done the mapl.de.map when BMT was more mature I am almost certain that this would have been the South Dakota setting. Not major, but very clear. B+.
When?! They botch the timing of this slight as we get a clear “June 9” on a security camera that Bruce Willis looks at, but then we also get a “June 9th” on the whistleblower letter one of the characters writes… but those two things can’t possibly have happened the same day. So basically an F… JK. Solid B.
We occasionally claim a BMT film is not that bad (not that bad), but it’s much rarer for us to make the call that a film is not just not that bad, but in fact maybe even kinda sorta good. I’m making that call! I think Mercury rising is a good thriller (and it’s got a little heart to boot). I enjoyed Bruce Willis. I enjoyed Alec Baldwin. I enjoyed the concept. Is it perfect? No. It lags a bit in the middle, goes heavy on Willis trying to connect with Simon, and shoehorns in a completely unnecessary love interest at the last minute. But it made me feel some emotions and thrilled me at all the right time. At the very least we can all agree that the 17% RT score it holds is a crazy underestimation of the merits of this film. As for the Bring a Friends we brought along, we really ran the gamut this week. Fallout was actually kinda a fun, dumb space action film that seemed at times like Daniel Baldwin was edited in from a different movie. Weirdly, it also had a shockingly strong female lead… better than almost all Hollywood films you’d watch. Backdraft 2 is a sad joke given that the original film is quite enjoyable. It feels like a two-part pilot for a television series that never got off the ground, but by all accounts it was always intended to be a film… not sure I believe it. Laughably inadequate. Finally, Dead Weekend… oh Stephen Baldwin… did you lose a bet? This is barely a film that is excruciating and at times uncomfortable to watch. There are only three explanations: 1) Stephen read the script and saw the words “sex alien” and was like “I’m in.” 2) Stephen knew the director and did him a favor after hashing out the plot over beers. 3) Stephen overheard someone talking about the upcoming film Species and thought “I gotta get in on that sex alien action” and found whoever would let him make a sex alien picture ASAP. It is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! So I have all of this mercury, and the darnest thing is happening to it … its rising! We watched Mercury Rising, let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – Watching the trailer and reading up on the film made me wonder … is this actually a bad film? It seems like critics were just annoyed that it was so predictable and Bruce-Willis-y. But does that a bad thriller make? It was a big question, I was ready to be annoyed by Bruce-Willis-ness. What were my expectations? Honestly, I figured this would end up being a fine thriller which I would like. The 90s thriller is pretty good, and that might be a bit of nostalgia speaking, but hey, maybe I just like 90s thrillers.
The Good – I think this is a fine 90s thriller. Bruce Willis is silly, but if you like Bruce Willis it is fine. Alec Baldwin is a scene-chewing villain who might as well have had a giant moustache, but again, if you like Alec Baldwin it is fine. The storyline is silly, but if you let it wash over you and not think about it too much then (say it with me) it is fine. You picking up what I’m putting down? This movie is a fine 90s thriller. I would gladly watch it again right then. Fight me. I did genuinely like the Chicago setting. Just works for thriller, reminded me of The Fugitive.
The Bad – Having one of the two main characters be a severely autistic child makes the film a bit tough to handle, just because there isn’t much of a dialogue for extended periods of time. The directing kind of sucks, and it relies a bit on flashbacks and characters expositing at you every few scenes. It is a bit sad that the main female lead is just a random person Willis finds in a coffee shop an hour into the film. It would have been a decent opportunity to introduce an ex-girlfriend / ex-wife character for Willis, but maybe that would make it too close to Die Hard.
The BMT – I mean … it’ll go down as a good film in BMT basically. An example of how critics can sometimes fatigue on a particular lazy style of storytelling, and they just ruin a film for being tired and boring. But I liked the film and would gladly watch it again, what can I say. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, but that is kind of a bad thing. Something being surprisingly good is amusing (e.g. Freddy Got Fingered), but something being 90s-Bruce-Willis-Thriller is just a film I would show someone if they wanted to watch a film like this. Nothing more, nothing less.
Roast-radamus – Very minor Setting as a Character (Where?) for Chicago. It is a very Chicago film, but it could probably be set in NYC as well. Some great Product Placement (What?), but my personal favorite is Swiss Miss (It’s hooooooot, sip it slowleeeeeeeeeeee) which our autistic boy hero drinks every day when he gets home from school. You can make a decent argument the child himself is a MacGuffin (Why?) as well which is pretty fun. And finally, it will definitely be on my shortlist for Good, not least because I think good BMT film examples are pretty few and far between.
StreetCreditReport.com – There is really nothing about this film beyond that critics really didn’t like it. It actually seemed like some reviews enjoy the premise (and Alec Baldwin in particular), but then find it not very thrilling and pretty dumb. Agree to disagree. I do think this could be the worst film with a severely autistic main character, and it’ll be in the mix for an extended list for worst films set in Chicago (maybe).
Bring a Friend Analysis – Alongside Mercury Rising we watched (gasp) three other Baldwin brother films! First up was Dead Weekend starring Stephen Baldwin. And this film is wild. A sci-fi art film all dressed up as a straight-to-Starz erotic thriller of some kind? Legend has it Alec told Stephen not to do Bio-Dome because it would destroy his career … but this came out a year prior. Something tells me Stephen’s career was already in trouble. Second was Fallout starring Daniel Baldwin. This film, on the other hand, is one of the classic straight-to-video films focusing on “one cool thing”, in this case “spaceships”. Baldwin plays a down and out astronaut who ends up having to save the world from a group of Russian separatists (kind of, let’s not get into the politics) who have taken over an international space station and satellite network. It was actually really good looking. The main issue is Daniel Baldwin who is genuinely out of shape and a bad actor. A random guy like Michael Dudikoff would have been less distracting. But maybe the best one-cool-thing videos I’ve seen thus far, which is saying something. And finally we watched Backdraft 2 starring William Baldwin. Somehow they managed to get Donald Sutherland and William Baldwin to come back for this ill-fated direct-to-VOD sequel to the Kurt Russell classic. Jamie nailed it on this one, it is more like a television pilot than anything else. Complete with the streetwise partner and the magic-mathematian girlfriend for our main character to utilize in all his arson hunting glory. As a pilot it is passable for an 8pm CBS drama, as a film it is a sad example of the worst that streaming has to offer.