Mercury Rising (1998)

(On Cable TV, November 2015) I’ve been watching and enjoying so many late-nineties thrillers lately that I had begun to worry that I was losing my critical impartiality regarding the sub-genre.  Fortunately, here is Mercury Rising to remind me of what a bad movie of the form could be.  From a rather pedestrian premise (autistic kid solves problem that means that he’s cracked a top-secret encryption scheme; rogue elements of the government try to kill him; disgraced policeman steps in to protect him), Mercury Rising is primarily a failure of execution.  Bruce Willis shows little energy in his role (echoing a lack of interest in most of the movies he’s taken on since 2010), while Alec Baldwin cackles as the villain.  The plot is borderline nonsensical, the action scenes are rote and whatever emotional resonance the film tries to wring out of its elements rings false.  The ending sequence is particularly bad, unconvincingly built from disparate soundstage elements.  Mercury Rising is formula-built, which wouldn’t so bad if it was competently executed.  But it isn’t, and despite Baldwin’s enjoyable turn as the antagonist, there isn’t much here to stay entertained. 

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