Thursday, December 7, 2023
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Mercy Review

At least ten feature films are named Mercy. Double digits do not sound so bad for a one-word title which established the mood of a half-strung piece, but it does make it difficult to find in search engines. Think of the lazy souls trying to prod around the latest Jon Voight feature, for it becomes difficult to type in the year, the actor, or whatever else can signify this. Pray for mercy, then. Not for the arrival of this Jonathan Rhys Meyers-featuring disaster, but mercy for its departure. Only Nick Cave and Johnny Cash can convince for third-party mercy. The Mercy Seat is nowhere to be found in Mercy although the film would improve tenfold with any distraction from its Irish mob blunders. Brendan Gleeson will not touch these sorts of straight-to-streaming fixtures, Voight will do.  

There is only so much prevention which can go into a singular film. It takes hours to work up the courage to watch Mercy and before you know it, like a trip to the dentist or having to drain a pint of Fosters, it is, mercifully, over. Gibson is fine enough although her immediate screams of a bomb threat and the subsequent, low-budget explosion do little to engage the audience beyond throwing a light show in their face. Rather fitting for the market of straight-to-streaming tax write-offs but never as convincing as it could be. It lacks the mainstream effectiveness of a legend of the screen. A Willis or a Gibson is not thrown in. Instead, Voight is there, a man whose career never featured much quality at the turn of the 21st century anyway.  

Throwing the military jargon out there and tucking it away moments later is all the backstory anyone gets from director Tony Dean Smith. His hospital-based antics follow a strange trend and pattern of the relatively easy-to-hire props necessary for these features. Presumably, scrubs are cheap to hire and easy to clean. Voight brings his own suits and the cheap, cliché Irish exposition which follows and features, from the bomber jackets and, well, tartan attire for some strange reason, there is a lack of attentiveness here which spreads to the fates and fumbled narrative provided by the supporting performers. Bobby Stewart is a fascinating inclusion here and it leads to some of the worst parts of the movie. Splitting the narrative into three sections because, presumably, this trio could not be scheduled correctly, comes at a cost. 

Damages are already done to most of these films. They have a handle with care printed on the side of them and the package is booted around like a football. Still, the slurring and unconvincing Irish accent from Voight, and somehow an equally poor one from actual Irishman Meyers, is a worrying blow Mercy never finds time to deal with. Even then, there is a sense of confronting the past to deal with the future present in Mercy which floats some better ideas. Naturally, they are thrown into the usual humdrum family conclusions, cheaply tying Mercy all up together. Of course it ends with blankets draped over heroes sitting opposite ambulances. How else would it end? Got to make the most of the hired props. Mercy does just that, a cost-cutting drama with a lifeless, expectant drive through the glum pothole-ridden road of the modern action genre.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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