Most films depict FBI agents as cookie cutter, clean shaven men. Blind allegiance and obedient boy scouts wearing crisp black and grey suits with matching ties. (Despite Corky Romano’s efforts).
Huh? Wha? Wait, someone is watching this?
But not even the Federal Government has the balls to casually drop a “suggested attire” memo on the desk of Bruce Willis.
Tee shirt and jeans… Check
Jacket with a half zip… Check
5 O’clock shadow… Check
Badge tucked into belt… Check
Holster… NOPE. Are you sure? You are a Federal agent and have access to just about any gun holster imaginable at no price to you. No thanks, I’m Bruce F’ing Willis and I just tuck my gun into my pants or pocket it in my jacket like a set of keys.
Perhaps I’m a bit overly cautious since seeing David Silver’s nerdy friend Billy the Kid himself in his daddy’s office. Hair triggers and misfires are a bit of a concern for me when it comes to guns. But not for Bruce Willis, though; he will run, jump, and fight all while a weapon capable of instant death is tucked into the waistband of his fruit of the looms aimed directly at his tea and biscuits.
“Dude, did you see that rumor Willis is wearing a thong today? Awesome!”
Mercury Rising is a typical 90’s action flick with a kicker. Like the studio said they want to make a movie mixing Die Hard with What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?.
Bruce Willis plays Art Jeffries, “one of the best” undercover FBI agents they had ever seen. He has an affinity towards children. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter. Bruce just wants to help children. His edgy style of justice leads him to become a fugitive once he crosses paths with Simon, a 9 year old autistic boy played by Miko Hughes, who is better known as the “Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina” kid from Kindergarten Cop. Also the cute little kid who poorly tied his shoe in the road from Pet Cemetery.
Okay Miko, we have 1 take at this, lets make it a good one!
Simon is a bit of a savant, and when he cracks an impenetrable code hidden in a children’s puzzle book he becomes a target of the NSA, which is led by Alec Baldwin and will murder anyone at the drop of a hat to protect it’s 2 billion dollar code that for some reason was printed in a children’s puzzle book.
Enter every conspiracy movie’s favorite villain, the NSA. Here they employ intensely stereotypical nerds to work computers, which back in the 90’s apparently meant rows of numbers and letters flashing across a black C-Prompt screen with red flashing lights everywhere. The movie is true to it’s era and embraces what we imagined “high tech” was at the time, including coconut sized flip-phones and thumb print accessible portable computers.
eHarmony wasn’t much back then either
The NSA tears through town killing everyone involved, except of course Bruce Willis, who is left to decipher why the autistic child is being hunted by the men in suits through Simon’s minimal communication skills.
Blah, blah, gunshots, running, autism, over the top bad guy fight at the end, gentle resolution.
I might seem cynical, but I thoroughly enjoy Bruce Willis action movies of the 90’s. Mindless, senseless violence, a plot riddled with holes… this one being of course, what exactly IS the Mercury code anyway? A phone number? What the hell is a 9 year old autistic kid going to do with it that makes it a threat to Alec Baldwin’s buddy in the Iraqi National Gaurd? (Alec references him a couple times, like he REALLY wants you to know about him.) But regardless, you’re not looking for excellence here, you’re watching Bruce Willis shoot stuff. And for that he channels his inner John McClane for this one, which is always fun. Miko Hughes does well playing the autistic Simon; however, although his actions and mannerisms are true to this sad disability, his voice and speech don’t come across as convincing. Overall his performance was solid and gives wonder why his career never materialized with the degree of fame as other child actors.
Have you ever been minding your own business at a coffee shop and some strange man trips over your briefcase, then after 2 minutes of conversation you find yourself convinced to watch his extremely autistic son for a few hours while he goes out and shoots things? Probably, right? But has the autistic kid taken to you quicker than any other thing in his entire life in a matter of minutes, and the man comes back running from police cars and takes the kid back? Don’t answer that yet… because he later shows up at 2AM knocking at your apartment door! Do you let him in? OF COURSE you do! He is a balding man in jeans claiming to be an FBI agent wanted by the police escorting around a disabled 9 year old boy. Are there really girls this dumb and trusting out there? It’s obvious that somewhere, someone said, “Wait fellas, we need a woman in this movie for all the guys that want to tug but don’t want to get up to hit stop on the VCR.” “GREAT IDEA! Can we find 10 minutes we can squeeze her in?”
Bad guys and their silencers. This NSA assassin has the perfect backstory. According to the government records he has been dead for years and he has an Ed Harris haircut, wears a suit, and barely talks. Despite these traits of the perfect killer, he ends up being the most incompetent killer I’ve ever seen. He carries a silencer on his pistol, which is useless because he is always running through crowds shouting with it waving in the air (Kinda defeats it’s purpose.)
He also gets a number of clear opportunities to take out Bruce, but decides to run away instead. (who can blame him? IT’S BRUCE!)
He’s the human honey badger
The “real” recruitment office for the NSA must HATE Hollywood. Their application must say “we are not the bad guys. Bad guys need not apply.” As if they didn’t have a bad rap since Kennedy was shot, now they have movies with them trying to kill adorable autistic kids. It’s a PR nightmare. But the 4th beer is for the sadness in this movie. It felt out of place for a 90’s action movie to have dramatic sympathy for a disabled child who cries out for his mother who was killed because of his damn puzzle solving abilities. This poor kid’s story tug the heartstrings a little and took away from the fun and mindless action you come to expect from the other one dimensional characters.
You get what you put into this one. It’s not quite “fun” action because of the sympathy for the autistic child whose life gets progressively worse through this entire film. But it is Bruce Willis at his best: a cop/Fed on the edge, refusing to play by the rules and engaging in plenty of senseless gun play. I did find it entertaining, but would advise if you’re in the mood for a Bruce Willis action flick, pick any of his others… except Cop Out.
Bonus Drinking Games
Take a Drink: whenever Simon refers to himself in the 3rd person
Take a Drink: for every guy you recognize, but don’t know his name (“That Guy” sip)
Take a Drink: whenever Bruce Willis shouts in anger
Take a Drink: at every reference to 90’s cartoons
Do a Shot: anytime Baldwin talks about his good friend in the Iraqi National Guard
Do a Shot: when the “TRONish” electronic snake sound plays while Simon is solving a puzzle