Mercury Rising (1998)
Directed by Harold Becker
Starring: Bruce Willis, Miko Hughes, Alec Baldwin
Simon Lynch (Hughes) is an autistic savant who’s just solved an incredible puzzle. The problem is that this puzzle has unlocked a secret government code. When Simon unwittingly exposes his skill to the N.S.A. his parents are killed and he’s targeted. Soon F.B.I. agent Art Jeffries (Willis) discovers the conspiracy and begins looking for a way to save the young boy. He’s up against trained killers and a ruthless politician (Baldwin) who is willing to do whatever it takes to protect a code he spent millions to develop.
The story for this film came from Ryne Douglas Pearson’s 1996 novel Simple Simon. Harold Becker (City Hall) directed the cast of big names through a mildly entertaining film. The cast included Bruce Willis (Pulp Fiction), Miko Hughes (Apollo 13), and Alec Baldwin (Glengarry Glen Ross) in addition to a number of other familiar faces.
The actors in this movie didn’t have a lot to work with. The story seemed overly predictable from the beginning, and the climax is almost nonexistent. For the actors, this led to a number of performances that feel half-hearted and cheesy. Only in small moments does the talent of the stars shine through the plot issues. Bruce Willis seems to have fallen into a role made up of the leftover parts of Die Hard, while Alec Baldwin has a character that feels like a used car salesman. If there was a winner on the cast, it was Miko Hughes whose portrayal as an autistic child is very nicely done.
The action and camera work in this film is hard to judge. With such a poorly written script I lost focus early on. The visuals aren’t bad, but unfortunately they don’t do enough for this mediocre film.
This movie is one of those films I’d have a hard time recommending. The story has some very good possibilities that seemed squandered by poor writing and rough acting by the two main characters. If you’re a fan of the main actors you might enjoy this one, but otherwise it’s one you’re better off passing on. I really wanted to like this one, but in the end it only managed 2 out of 5 stars.