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Mercury Rising

Starring Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin
Screenplay by Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal
Directed by Harold Becker
Website: www.mercury-rising.com

IN SHORT: A dud.

By way of set up, it took five minutes to walk to the movie theater where Mercury Rising was being sneak previewed. In the time it took to walk there, an inch of rain fell on New York City and Cranky walked into the theater looking like a water stuffed sponge. Cranky endured the rain 'cuz he likes Bruce Willis movies.

Not this one.

"Simple Simon," the novel by Ryne Douglas Pearson may have been an intricately detailed, seat of your pants type thriller but whatever detail made the book worth reading has been left out of the Bruce Willis starrer now retitled Mercury Rising. Cranky knows this to be the case because the movie is filled with too many coincidences, too many characters appearing and disappearing solely to set up action sequences and too many occurrences of what my screenplay writing teacher termed HDTKT -- How do they know that?

The story is of an autistic 9-year old (Miko Hughes) who can read an ultra top secret and incredibly expensive code, named "Mercury," an example of which has been placed in a common puzzle magazine by a couple of NSA geeks. Only the two geeks and their boss (Alec Baldwin) know that the kid can do what he can do, which doesn't leave a lot of options to build a who-dunnit suspense flick. The possibility that "someone else" could find out and bring down the system is offered and then left to hang in the breeze, as a mysterious flat-top blows away the kid's parents.

Assigned to find the presumably kidnapped child is "paranoid delusional" burned out FBI Special Agent Art Jeffries (Bruce Willis), who pops tranquilizers like Pez candy. Single 40-something man that he is, Jeffries is showing substantial strain for missing the opportunity to have his own kids. When we first meet him, an undercover op has gone bad and a pair of teenage kids are blown away by FBI agents. He will be haunted by black and white images of the death grimaces of these kids, thus we're to immediately get that he really cares for this autistic kid.

Why Agent Jeffries is assigned to this case -- he'd been grounded after his previous outing -- is a mystery. But he keeps stumbling across, and foiling, attempts to kill the kid. In the process he has a kidnap warrant laid on his head. With only the help of an FBI buddy (Chi McBride) and a woman he meets in a coffee shop, Willis saves the day while bodies drop on every side of him.

When even the guys are walking out of a Willis flick saying it was "boring," you know you've got a stinker. Cranky didn't care about Willis' character, and average performance. Cranky didn't believe that this autistic kid is a threat, and he sure didn't believe anyone could support the justification for the kills, or Willis' initial solution to the problem.

There is a lovely set of shots of exploding panes of glass at the finale, and a death plunge you can see coming five minutes before it happens. Simply put, you won't give a hoot.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Mercury Rising, he would have paid . . .


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The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is Copyright © 1995  -  2015   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.