Monday, December 2, 2013

Only now does it occur to me... MERCURY RISING

Only now does it occur to me...  well, a few things.

From the writers of Burton's PLANET OF THE APES and Cannon's SUPERMAN IV comes an inspiring tale in the slick/big budget/all-star cast/conspiracy thriller-mode that was quite in vogue in the late 90s (ABSOLUTE POWER, CONSPIRACY THEORY, ARLINGTON ROAD, ENEMY OF THE STATE, ERASER, EXTREME MEASURES, THE FIRM, THE GAME, MURDER AT 1600, THE PELICAN BRIEF, SHADOW CONSPIRACY).  Occasionally laughable but usually enjoyable, it's also secretly (er– actually, openly) a message picture about autism.

 A few quick observations:

#1. Miko Hughes (KINDERGARTEN COP, PET SEMETARY, APOLLO 13, WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE, FULL HOUSE, John Hughes' son) is put in vehicular harm's way

even more often than in PET SEMATARY, a movie whose most notable feature (besides the Ramones song) is Miko Hughes being run over by a truck.

#2.  Also, I'm wondering if– differing color corrections aside– Willis is wearing the same (or basically the same) brown jacket and jeans as he wears in PULP FICTION.  Maybe he wanted elements from PULP FICTION around in his other 90s work as a good luck charm, like Buscemi in ARMAGEDDON or Sam Jackson in DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE or Mexican standoffs in LAST MAN STANDING.

#3.  The versatile actor John Carrol Lynch– playing a character named Lynch– has a prominent role in two of the most notable contemporary films about ciphers and code-breaking:  MERCURY RISING and ZODIAC.
Perhaps only John Carrol Lynch can truly solve... THE DA VINCI CODE.  (I would actually watch that movie.)

#4.  The brilliant character-actor Peter Stormare (FARGO, MINORITY REPORT, ARMAGEDDON, etc., etc.) is completely wasted as a grunt-uttering henchman with about two minutes of screentime.

 Peter Stormare:  he deserves better.

 #5.  For fans of TV's 30 ROCK, Alec Baldwin's villainous "Kudrow" in MERCURY RISING will come across as a carbon-copy, albeit "serious" version of Jack Donaghy– complete with pompous board-room persona, laughably right-wing sentiments, deep-voice affectation and all.  This is especially fantastic in a wine cellar showdown whereupon Baldwin unsuccessfully instructs Willis not to handle his wine twice

which prompts Willis to make the power play of destroying an entire vintage-packed wine rack
causing Frasier Crane, somewhere in Seattle, to wince terribly without even knowing why. 
I must applaud this, ecstatically.

–Sean Gill


Unknown said...

Hah, that last comment about Frasier Crane was a great way to end the review. I seem to dimly recall seeing this film, but not remembering anything about it so your trip down memory lane helped clear things up and may explain why I don't remember much about it!

Yeah, everyone involved in that film has certainly done better work and this film always felt like everyone was just going through the motions and collecting a pay check.

Sean Gill said...


As always, glad you enjoyed. Definitely a paycheck movie, but one of those slick, generic 90s thrillers that make for for a nice lazy Sunday afternoon. For some reason, I'm also thinking of HARD RAIN and DESPERATE MEASURES, which were also 1998 underachievers.